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Worrying research about pesticides

(56 Posts)
Eloethan Sun 29-Jun-14 12:37:48

The Guardian recently reported on new research conducted by an international team of scientists regarding the widespread and routine use of neonicotinoids. The research not only highlights the damaging effect on the environment of this class of pesticide but also the "striking" lack of evidence that its use leads to increased crop yields.

A scientist is quoted as saying "The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT". The report warns of the loss of worms, which aerate the soil, pollinators, such as bees, and of dragonflies which eat mosquitos. Some studies showed that ditchwater has become so contaminated that it could be used as a lice-control pesticide.

The Crop Protection Association's (which represents pesticide manufacturers) Chief Executive's response was "It is a selective review of existing studies ... does not represent a robust assessment of the safety of systemic pesticides under realistic conditions of use". As Mandy Rice-Davies said "Well, he would say that wouldn't he."

MiniMouse Sat 05-Jul-14 18:41:51

For those who are interested - 38degrees succeeded in their petition to ban the use of neonicotinoids.

Below is the info I received in an email from them:

"Yesterday Syngenta withdrew their controversial application to allow their banned bee-killer pesticides back on UK fields.

Owen Paterson, the environment minister, sided with Syngenta. But the decision was deemed so toxic that it was brought all the way up to the Prime Minister and his cabinet to discuss.

The day before the big meeting, the huge people-powered petition signed by over 200,000 of us was delivered to the PM’s desk. And on the morning of the meeting, hundreds of us swarmed on Downing St to confront the ministers as they arrived. "

nightowl Sat 05-Jul-14 19:32:27

Thanks for posting that MiniMouse. We still need to keep up the pressure for next year.

Aka Sat 05-Jul-14 19:44:02

Thanks Mini and thank goodness the likes of that dreadful man Owen Paterson and Syngenta didn't get their way.

MiniMouse Sat 05-Jul-14 22:32:14

Well, it was Eloethan who started this thread, so I hope I haven't been poaching!

Life seems to be nothing else but signing petitions these days! One thing to be thankful to technology for - the speed at which 'mere mortals' like us get to find out about things before they become fait accomplis and can make our voices heard!

rosequartz Sat 05-Jul-14 23:05:50

Thanks both of you. Keep alert and keep us up-to-date.

Really, what is that numpty man doing in that job? Has he bought a pair of wellies yet and does he even know what bees do?

Aka Sat 05-Jul-14 23:15:22

Thanks Eloethan too.

It's sad that such an important topic attracts to little interest.

Aka Sat 05-Jul-14 23:15:48

so little interest...

Eloethan Sun 06-Jul-14 01:18:27

MiniMouse Thanks for the update on this, and don't be daft, of course you weren't "poaching".

Shamefully, I can't even remember whether I was aware of the petition or signed it. I don't know much about science but the article certainly scared me. I was worried that no-one on GN appeared to be bothered about it. Thank goodness some are.

Anyway, good news for now but these people never seem to give up, so I'm sure everyone who is concerned about the destruction of the natural environment will need to stay alert.

Aka Sun 06-Jul-14 08:10:12

That is something we do agree on Eloethan - that often issues that I, at least, consider 'serious' get very little response or the response is from the same concerned few.

I have met the attitude in the real world that 'it's not going to affect me as I'll be gone by then'. I've had that said to me be several older people so I suppose that's what's behind the underlying apathy.

Agus Sun 06-Jul-14 09:00:47

I receive a lot of petitions from 38 degrees and Eloethan.

I had signed this one and don't know if anyone else has heard that the Mother condemned to death for being Christian has been released thanks to pressure from foreign diplomats.

ayse Sun 06-Jul-14 10:22:48

I understand that these pesticides have only been banned initially for 2 years by the EU as an attempt to study the impact on the environment. I know little about the science but do believe that the less manufactured chemicals we use on our food the better. I can't understand how these chemicals come into use and then go on to cause such problems e.g. DDT.
Is big business far too powerful?

nightowl Sun 06-Jul-14 10:47:08

I believe you're right ayse, and I heard someone talking about this on the radio the other day saying the two year ban is not long enough to test the effects. The pesticides are already in the crops and we will not see the true effects until at least 2016, when the ban ends. Was this a cynical measure so we can be told the ban has had no effect and will be reversed?

MiniMouse Sun 06-Jul-14 12:45:23

Oh it's so good to see a response to this! I was quite concerned and surprised that there seemed to be so little interest shock

It's good that 38degrees etc are on the ball, so many of these issues seem to receive little press/media coverage, plus some of the info that is realeased is often so lengthy and complex that it's almost impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff hmm

Time to shift my soapbox to another issue . . . wink

durhamjen Thu 10-Jul-14 17:43:46

TriciaF Thu 10-Jul-14 18:11:36

It doesn't surprise me. We live in a cereal growing area in France and farmers are subject to the same EU rules as in the UK. But many have pesticides in their stores which are now banned but they still use them up. Dead wildlife have been found with evidence of poisoning from the banned pesticides.
There's ongoing research on the incidence of various types of cancer among farmers using these pesticides. As well as the reduction of the bee and wasp populations.
The reason for the continuation of the use is the financial power of the agricultural pharmacuetical companies.

durhamjen Thu 10-Jul-14 18:18:14

This is one of the reasons Syngenta, etc., want the TTIP agreement. If our governments stop farmers from using dangerous pesticides, the companies will be able to sue the government. We will also end up with GM crops by the back door.

thatbags Fri 11-Jul-14 09:10:18

I'm not over bothered about GM crops. Some of them seem like a jolly good idea and no different, in principle, to other kinds of plant modification that people have been engaging in since the dawn of agriculture. No different in principle, just quicker.

thatbags Fri 11-Jul-14 09:11:16

Oh god! I just used 'different to' instead of 'different from'. The rot has set in!!! shock

Aka Fri 11-Jul-14 10:01:44

They are different Bags inasmuch as genes from an unrelated species are being introduced into the genomes. When using traditional methods farmers, botanists, etc can only cross-fertilised between species which ave a biological relationship, eg between different breeds of cows, species of tomatoes, or occasionally in the same 'family' such as horse and zebra, lion and tiger.

You could never cross breed a tiger and a horse using traditional methods! Apart from the fact the tiger would eat the horse grin

But in GM crops you are taking a gene from a tomato for example and replacing it with one from a pig, for example. As genes don't act in isolation, some scientists are concerned with how that pig gene might behave inside the tomato nucleus.

We just don't know yet, and if anything does go amiss it can't be put right, ever.

annodomini Fri 11-Jul-14 10:07:30

Naughty bags, go and stand in Pedants' Corner for ten minutes.

durhamjen Fri 11-Jul-14 20:20:32

I am worried about GM. I eat organic food and wish to retain that choice, not have the organic parameters changed just because Syngenta and others can sue the government for not allowing them to export GM.

MiniMouse Fri 11-Jul-14 21:27:09

I'm worried, too durhamj Just because scientists can, doesn't mean that they should as far as I'm concerned.

Iam64 Sat 12-Jul-14 19:04:24

I signed the petition, as well as those relating specifically to bees. This summer I've been pleased to see we've had more flies around. Not that they're especially welcome of course, but it made me hope people are using less pesticides.

I have more worms in the garden than for a number of years, but suspect that's down to all the organic matter from the chickens (sadly now re-homed).

There is publicity today about the (alleged) benefits for organic food. It is expensive, but perhaps if there was more demand, there'd be more of it. As with free range chickens - all the supermarkets now stock organic free range chickens for meat eaters.

thatbags Sat 12-Jul-14 20:34:42

I like your explanation in para three, aka but, as I understand it, the kind of gene transfer we are talking about is the same kind of thing as happens naturally and is what drives evolution – i.e. random mutations in the DNA. These mutations can be beneficial to the species in question, or deleterious, or neutral. In fact a lot of DNA is neutral (doesn't code to any protein), i.e. is, in effect, junk. The kind of exchange you describe in the third paragraph is essentially the same as a random mutation. Life deals with random mutations.

With regard to your last sentence, if a genetic mutation applied to a domestic crop – which is what GMO is for – turns out to be deleterious (no bloody use/unsuccessful), you just ditch that experiment (don't breed from it) and try something else, another of those artificially induced mutations which behave in the same way as random ones. I think that covers the genes not acting in isolation thing too.

So that's why I think it's no big deal. Well, it is a big deal scientifically for human beings to have discovered all this, but biologically I don't think it's a big deal. Life on Earth has dealt with this stuff forever.

I'm still not afraid of GMO crops.