Bayer’s pesticide, devastating bees, may kill birds, too

Not Just the Bees: Bayer’s Pesticide May Harm Birds, Too | Mother Jones
By Tom Philpott
Wed Mar. 27, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

Once again this spring, farmers will begin planting at least 140 million acres—a land mass roughly equal to the combined footprints of California and Washington state—with seeds (mainly corn and soy) treated with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Commercial landscapers and home gardeners will get into the act, too—neonics are common in lawn and garden products. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know all of that is probably bad news for honeybees and other pollinators, as a growing body of research shows—including three studies released just ahead of last year’s planting season.

But bees aren’t the only iconic springtime creature threatened by the ubiquitous pesticide, whose biggest makers are the European giants Bayer and Syngenta. It turns out that birds are too, according to an alarming analysis co-authored by Pierre Mineau, a retired senior research scientist at Environment Canada (Canada’s EPA), published by the American Bird Conservancy. And not just birds themselves, but also the water-borne insect species that serve as a major food source for birds, fish, and amphibians.

The article isn’t peer-reviewed, but Mineau is a formidable scientist. In February, he published a peer-reviewed paper in PLoS One concluding that pesticides, and not habitat loss, have likely been driving bird-population declines in the United States.

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