How Higher Tier Testing Would Answer the Neonicotinoid Question

From Sept. 1, 2018, the use of five neonicotinoid pesticides are banned in France, making the nation stricter than the European Union, which has only banned three of the five popular pesticides. The move comes after various studies demonstrated the potential harmful impact of the nicotine-based chemicals on bees and aquatic invertebrates.

Testing in a realistic environment could change the way we understand the environmental impact of such chemicals in the future.

As well as the total ban in France, Canada has given farmers three years to find alternatives to two of the three nicotine-based pesticides currently approved for use across the nation. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) wants to phase out the outdoor use of thiamethoxam and clothianidin.

The PMRA began studying the pesticides in 2012 in response to concerns about the impact on honey bees. However, it was the results of a subsequent study in 2016 that highlighted the impact on aquatic invertebrates and led to the decision to ban the products.

Similar, limited studies in laboratory and confined mesocosm testing facilities by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that aquatic insects are highly sensitive to neonicotinoids and the impact on aquatic invertebrates can have cascading effects on food webs and healthy ecosystem function. This includes low level, sublethal exposures resulting in decreases in species abundance and altered predator-prey relationships.

The EPA also states that current federal aquatic life benchmarks for neonicotinoids are potentially underestimating risks and chemical mixtures and their potential synergistic effects are not considered in aquatic risk assessments, resulting in unknown risks to species.

This not only raises questions about the process of bringing plant protection products (PPPs) to market, but also around the studies that have concluded what level of risk neonicotinoids pose a risk to aquatic ecosystems.

Higher tier testing in an environment that more closely replicates edge-of-field waterbodies, like Fera’s E-Flows mesocosm, holds the potential to change that in the future. Advanced testing facilities, such as the E-Flows mesocosm, which can provide new scientific data, will help us to understand environmental impacts and the risks of these pesticides to aquatic organisms in a way never possible before. This will allow better understanding based on facts underpinned by new scientific data to prevent potential harm to aquatic ecosystems.

The pesticides in question here are extremely popular, meaning the proposed bans have left farmers concerned about sourcing alternatives — as well as raising questions about whether existing alternatives are any better for the environment. For example, many must be applied in much higher doses in order to be effective.

The ambiguity around the impact of all pesticides and the recent view of organizations like the EPA that potential risks are being underestimated, makes it clear that there is a need at product testing phases to generate broader datasets about environmental interactions.

As the E-Flows mesocosm has the capability to test the effect of chemicals in 60 free flowing streams supplied with fresh water and stocked with a variety of plants and invertebrates, the data produced is a more accurate view of how crop protection chemicals will interact with nearby aquatic ecosystems. This provides a tool that has never been available before, to generate exposure scenarios and effects data that pushes the science beyond current capabilities of existing technology.

Of course, this also provides an interesting commercial opportunity for manufacturers of crop protection chemicals. By providing the market with new products supported by data of this high quality, pesticide and biocide manufacturers will be in a position to fill the gap left by the removal of neonicotinoids from agriculture.


Leave a Reply



What to Do If You Have Products Subject to New U.S. Tariffs

The new retaliation lists hit almost every product that the Chinese import from the U.S.


Bayer Outlines Vision for Future for Ag

The company intends to broadly launch FarmRise in India in 2019, with additional expansion plans in the future for Asia, Africa and South America.


Should Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to Startups?

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, when we work with this question, depending on where the


Glyphosate Still Under Threat in Brazil – Report

Brazil's farmers will face higher costs if they are forced to procure substitute herbicides.


HELM Agro U.S. Launches New Line of Fearless Herbicides

HELM Agro US, Inc. has received EPA registration for FEARLESS and FEARLESS XTRA herbicides, two acetochlor-based weed control tools for

Figure 1: Summary of R&D management activities.

Strategic R&D Management in the Global Crop Protection Industry (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This is the second of seven articles in a series on Strategic R&D Management in AgChem and BioScience


Brazilian Court Overturns Glyphosate Ban

Judge based ruling on government's argument that the ban could harm Brazil's economy.


With California Glyphosate Verdict, Full-Blown Chemical Warfare Has Started

God, I sometimes hate being right. Frequent readers of this column might remember that not too many months back I predicted that, since things seemed to be going pretty good for crop protection products in terms of sales, market opponents would begin redoubling their efforts to “take down” this segment in any way possible.


BASF Launches Credenz with LibertyLink GT27

It allows growers to apply both Liberty herbicide and glyphosate over the top of soybeans for post-emergence control of broadleaf and grass weeds.


Hedge Hurts ADAMA Profit, While Sales Rise

The past two quarters have seen the beginnings of a recovery in demand for crop protection products in many markets, despite ongoing low soft commodity prices and farmer income.


CropLife Ghana Trains Regulatory Officials on Detection of Sub-standard Agrichemicals

Security officers, including police, customs officers, and other regulatory agents in the country have attended a day’s workshop on identifying


The Verdict on Dicamba in the U.S., Year Two

Was year two of the new dicamba technologies in the United States a success?


Yield10 Bioscience Signs Research License Agreement the Broad Institute and Pioneer

 Yield10 Bioscience Inc., a company developing new technologies to create step-change improvements in crop yield to enhance global food security,


Sourcing Agchem from China: An Outlook that Demands Strategic Planning

C S Liew, Pacific Agriscience Pte Ltd, Singapore, examines the repercussions of the Chinese environmental crackdown and sourcing at the 2018 Trade Summit held in Phoenix, Arizona.


Atticus Adds Depth with New Staff Members

Atticus welcomes six new members to its growing team of talent.


Is India a Future Manufacturing Hub for Agrichemicals?

The changing scenario in global trade has made a significant impact on agrichemical business in India. Although the country is


Vive Introduces Five New Crop Protection Products for 2019 Season

Five new fertilizer-compatible products are expected to be available from Vive Crop Protection for U.S. corn, sugarbeet, and potato growers


Vive Announces Five Crop Protection Products for 2019

New nanotechnology-enabled products provide proven insect or disease control.

Rice Field

Belchim Crop Protection USA to Distribute Tenchu Insecticide

Belchim Crop Protection USA has announced it will be distributing Tenchu 20SG (active ingredient dinotefuran), a leading insecticide to protect

Latest News


CropLife America Names Corteva’s Wasson as Chair

Wasson will hold the position for two years and use her diverse background to help guide the association, working with newly hired President and CEO Chris Novak.


Agricultural Robotics Take Center Stage at FIRA 2018

The future of agricultural innovation will continue to rely heavily on collaboration and exchange of ideas among all industry players.


What to Do If You Have Products Subject to New U.S. Tariffs

The new retaliation lists hit almost every product that the Chinese import from the U.S.

Industry News

China: We’ll Retaliate Against New U.S. Tariffs

China said on Tuesday that it had no choice but to retaliate against new U.S. trade tariffs, raising the risk

Plant Health

Soil Holds the Secret to Mitigating Climate Change

Food production doesn’t have to be a victim of climate change. New research from Michigan State University suggests that crop