Insecticides foster ‘toxic’ slugs, reduce crop yields

Insecticides aimed at controlling early-season crop pests, such as soil-dwelling grubs and maggots, can increase slug populations, thus reducing crop yields, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of South Florida.

“Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world,” said Margaret Douglas, graduate student in entomology, Penn State. “Seed applications of neonicotinoids are often viewed as cheap insurance against pest problems, but our results suggest that they can sometimes worsen pest problems and should be used with care.”

According to John Tooker, associate professor of entomology, Penn State, recent research links neonicotinoids with negative effects on pollinators and pollution of surface water in agricultural ecosystems, and even with cascading negative effects on aquatic invertebrates and insect-eating birds. However, the effects of these common seed-applied insecticides on soil-dwelling creatures have been little explored.

“Our research suggests that neonicotinoids can have unintended costs, even within crop production,” he said.

The researchers conducted laboratory and field experiments. In the lab, they exposed slugs to three types of soybeans — untreated soybeans, soybeans whose seeds were treated with fungicide, and soybeans treated with fungicide and seed-applied thiamethoxam, a very common neonicotinoid. The team then tracked slug weight and survival. Next, the scientists presented slugs from the treatments to a ground beetle species that eats slugs. They then tracked slug mortality and symptoms of beetle poisoning. Continue reading “Insecticides foster ‘toxic’ slugs, reduce crop yields”

India school lunch deaths: pesticide found in cooking oil

July 20, 2013 14:36

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

pesticide india lunches

School lunch that killed 23 children in India was found to have contained agricultural pesticide. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

A powerful insecticide killed 23 young Indian students last week, a forensic report has found.

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

The industrial-strength insecticide was found in the cooking oil used to make the meal. It was said to be five times stronger than commercial chemical insecticides.

“The report has found organophospharus in oil samples collected from the school where the mid-day meal was prepared and consumed by the children,” said Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer in Bihar state capital Patna, according to AFP.

“It was observed by the scientists of the Forensic Science Laboratory that the poisonous substance in the (food) oil samples was more than five times the commercial preparation available in the market.”

More from GlobalPost: Poverty, not poison, killed Indian school lunch kids

The victims, aged four to 12, were buried in the playfield near the primary school that served the lunch.

Another two dozen children are still being treated in hospital.

The deaths sparked protests in the region.

Authorities are still investigating how the chemical got into the cooking oil. No arrests have been made.

The lunch was part of India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme, which feeds 120 million children – often their only meal of the day.

The plan seeks to alleviate malnutrition and boost school attendance rates.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130720/india-school-lunch-deaths-pesticide-found-cooking-oi

Association Found Between Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticide Exposure in French Farm Workers: pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration

2009 study posted for filing

Paris, France – June 04, 2009 – The cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, is unknown, but in most cases it is believed to involve a combination of environmental risk factors and genetic susceptibility. Laboratory studies in rats have shown that injecting the insecticide rotenone leads to an animal model of PD and several epidemiological studies have shown an association between pesticides and PD, but most have not identified specific pesticides or studied the amount of exposure relating to the association.

A new epidemiological study involving the exposure of French farm workers to pesticides found that professional exposure is associated with PD, especially for organochlorine insecticides. The study is published in Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Alexis Elbaz M.D., Ph.D., of Inserm, the national French institute for health research in Paris, and University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris 6), the study involved individuals affiliated with the French health insurance organization for agricultural workers who were frequently exposed to pesticides in the course of their work. Occupational health physicians constructed a detailed lifetime exposure history to pesticides by interviewing participants, visiting farms, and collecting a large amount of data on pesticide exposure. These included farm size, type of crops, animal breeding, which pesticides were used, time period of use, frequency and duration of exposure per year, and spraying method.

The study found that PD patients had been exposed to pesticides through their work more frequently and for a greater number of years/hours than those without PD. Among the three main classes of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), researchers found the largest difference for insecticides: men who had used insecticides had a two-fold increase in the risk of PD.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that environmental risk factors such as professional pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration,” notes Dr. Elbaz.

The study highlights the need to educate workers applying pesticides as to how these products should be used and the importance of promoting and encouraging the use of protective devices. In addition to the significance of the study for those with a high level of exposure to pesticides, it also raises the question about the role of lower-level environmental exposure through air, water and food, and additional studies are needed to address this question.