Landmark Report Shows Bee-killing Seed Coatings Aren’t Worth the Harm

seed-treatingFarmer and environmental friendly alternatives should replace toxic neonic seed coatings

WASHINGTON – A new report, Alternatives to Neonicotinoid Insecticide-Coated Corn Seed: Agroecological Methods are better for Farmers and the Environment, released recently from Center for Food Safety, shows that environmentally harmful neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide seed coatings are largely unnecessary and ineffective.

The landmark report is the first of its kind to compile and analyze the peer-reviewed science on the efficacy of neonic corn seed coatings and to offer recommendations for viable alternatives for protecting both farmers and the environment.

Neonic-coated corn seed is the most extensive use of an insecticide on any crop in the United States, affecting close to 90 million acres of farmland, along with the broader environment. Neonic insecticides are known to cause significant harm to pollinators, aquatic organisms, birds, and possibly people. Yet harm from neonic-coated corn seed is unnecessary. As this report shows, agroecological and other alternative farming methods that are not highly dependent on pesticides are available and result in high productivity.

“For years we have seen dramatically increasing use of these toxic pesticide, yet the peer-reviewed research shows that they rarely protect farmer profit or crop productivity,” said Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, the report’s author. “What we’ve also seen is that industry-sponsored analysis of the chemicals’ efficacy relies heavily on non-peer-reviewed research, and contains several biases that overestimate the value of neonic seed coatings for improving corn yield.”

Dr. Gurian-Sherman’s report compiles and analyzes the peer-reviewed research in the field, which shows there is no need for neonic seed coatings to protect the productivity of corn. Data examined also shows that the so-called secondary pests targeted by the seed coatings are rarely a problem for farmers; and, in fact “the published peer-reviewed evidence reveals that [these early-season insect pasts] infrequently reduce corn productivity in the absence of insecticide use.”

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