Tag Archives: neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoid Update

I just wanted to update you on some issues regarding neonicotinoids. Last week I posted a blog about concerns that neonics are having devastating effects on bee populations.

I decided to email some companies here in Ireland and the UK that supply seeds (both flowers and vegetables) to see whether any of their products contained neonics. A number of companies have not responded. However I did have some positive replies from others.

Unwin Seeds (in Ireland Woodies sell Unwin seeds ) were quick to respond that they do not use, nor have ever used neonicotinoid insecticides as a seed treatment in any of their seed ranges.

Thompson and Morgan also confirmed that they did not use any neonicotinoids on their seeds. However the person who replied did think that most insecticides containing neonicotinoid are now banned within the EU, which isn’t true as only three of the neonics chemical are only temporarily banned here.

Lidl are confirmed that their seeds were not treated.

De Ree UK also confirmed that their seeds were never coated with neonicotinoid chemicals.

Aldi asked for me to be more specific about the products but it is interesting that it was announced during the week that “Aldi Süd is the first big retailer in Europe to ban eight bee-harming pesticides from domestic fruits and vegetables produced for their markets.” This is  a huge step for a retailer and I hope it means their stores Europe wide will ban these projects. It is also setting a great example to other retailers. The Greenpeace press release also lists foods where these chemical s are being used. They include:


  • Thiamethoxam – applied to lettuce and endive
  • Chlorpyrifos, clothianidin – applied to kohlrabi, herbs, Brussels sprouts, head cabbage, cauliflower, and kale
  • Cypermethrin – applied to leek, head cabbage, and leguminous vegetables
  • Deltamethrin – applied to cauliflower, peppers, eggplant, zucchini/courgette, cucumber, pea, head cabbage, tomato, and lettuce
  • Imidacloprid – applied to apples, peaches, apricots, and lettuce


As consumers we can play a role here. Ask your retailers whether products they sell have been treated with neonics. Make a conscious effort to buy organic where you can. Or even better grow your own.

Silent Spring 2

I have just finished reading Dave Goulson’s – A Buzz in the Meadow. Goulson is Professor of Biology (Evolution, Behaviour and Environment) at the University of Sussex in the UK. He has completed many years of bee research and is a strong advocate of bumblebee conservation and founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the UK. This is Goulson’s second book, the first was A Sting in the Tail.

In a Buzz in the Meadow Goulson tells us about the fascinating life of insects. He takes as his starting point Chez Nauche, a farm in the heart of rural France, that he bought in 2003. Goulson has been managing the farm in such as way  as to encourage wildlife, with of course an emphasis on insects.

Goulson’s style is entertaining and informative. However, by the time he gets to Part III of his book the reading gets depressing. Goulson tells us about some of the experiments he and his colleagues carried out on bumblebees and the effect of chemicals known as neonicotinoids (neonics for short). Goulson refers to Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring and wonders if neonics are todays DDT.

Neonics are the worlds most widely used insecticide. Crop seeds are coated in the neonics and the germinating plant absorbs the chemicals, which then spread throughout the plant. Any insects eating any part of the plant dies. Neonics affect the nervous system and brain. It was Goulson and other researchers from France that proved that the neonics were affecting the bees ability to find their hives (the toxins appear to mess up their navigational system) and hence implicated neonics in Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Goulson outlines how little we know about these chemical and how they affect insects and other animals. The fact that the chemical will last for up to four decades in the soil is worrying enough, and should ring alarm bells. In addition, by volume neonics are 10,000 times more powerful as DDT.

There was a great article in the UK’s  Guardian Newspaper which goes into more details than I will here and I encourage everyone to read it.

Currently in the EU there is a two year ban on the use of certain neonics, it is essential that this is widened. In the USA, the EPA Administrator has just opened a public consultation period on the use of neonics. I encourage everyone (whether US citizen or not) to have their say. You can do so at this AVAAZ link.  Global neonic sales, according to Goulson, are thought to be worth $3.5 billion, so it is going to take a lot of people power to get them banned.

And a word of warning. Neonics are present in over- the-counter products you can buy from your garden centre. In my opinion, insecticides have no place in a garden. The garden chemicals won’t be labeled as containing neonics so surely it is better to avoid them altogether!



A Buzz in the Meadow is essential reading for everyone.