The Economic Value of Neonicotinoids

May 7, 2014

Editor’s Note: A new study by academicians from Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Arkansas (Gore, et al) demonstrates the economic value of neonictotinoids used in the Mid-South is available here.

The Gore study belies a report from the Center for Food Safety (CFS), “Heavy Costs: Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture” claiming “that numerous studies show neonicotinoid seed treatments do not provide significant yield benefits in many contexts. European reports of crop yields being maintained even after regional neonicotinoid bans corroborate this finding.”

The Gore, et al study, “Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments and their Use in IPM Programs in the Mid-South” highlights that “All of the conclusions” in the CFS report are “from that paper are based on information from the midwestern and northeastern U.S… In the southern U.S., insect pests are an annual yield limiting problem that impact profitable crop production in most crops. As a result, the conclusions drawn in this paper do not represent the entire U.S…..”

The Gore study also highlights that acedmicians recommed the use of neonics “are recommended by University Research and Extension Specialists in multiple crops.”

Of particular note, the Gore study states

In the Mid-South, numerous insect pests infest and damage all row crops during the seedling stage, many of which cannot be managed with foliar insecticides. As a result, at-planting insecticides are recommended as a standard IPM practice in many crops in the Mid-South and have been recommended before the introduction of neonicotinoid seed treatments. Calling for widespread bans of this class of insecticides would cripple farmers of most crops in the Mid-South because viable alternatives are no longer available. Those alternatives included highly toxic, broad spectrum insecticides that provided a greater risk to the environment and human health than neonicotinoid seed treatments. For any group to call for these bans without providing realistic alternative solutions is completely irresponsible.

Of note, one of the study authors, Gus Lorenz, speaking at a cotton conference earlier this year, explained that neonics are not taken up in the pollen and nectar of seed treated plants, see here.

Read Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments and their Use in IPM Programs in the Mid-South

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