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July 16, 2014 - Stephen Leahy has just written a landmark article, which can be found at http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-new-ddt-is-starving-out-insect-eating-songbirds.  I kind
of wish he wouldn't use that phrase, "the new ddt," though I understand why he does.  He's actually talking about neonicotinoids, which I've written about here previously.  His article is based on a science article published in the journal Nature on July 9.  The name of the article begins "Declines in insectivorous birds ... ."

Neonicotinoids were introduced 20 years ago.  Their usage has increased every year since then.  When did their manufacturers realize that these toxins were 5,000 - 10,000 times more poisonous than DDT?
As the now-adage goes, what did they know, and when did they know it?  The contagion makers have unleashed on an unsuspecting world amounts to a lethal pandemic.  You see, neonicotinoids don't stay put.  They are absorbed not just by crops, but by every plant in the vicinity.  Some, not very close to farm fields at all.

Let's skip to the punch line, then go back.  Many insect-eating birds are starving because there are now too few insects to eat.  Populations of insectivorous birds have crashed 50 - 90 % over the past two decades.  Once a plant - any plant - has taken the poisonous neonicotinoid into its system, it, too, becomes poisonous: to bees, butterflies, beetles, caterpillars, and, perhaps most damaging of all, to earthworms.

Birds are starving, and so are their offspring, because insects constitute an "indispensable" part of a baby bird's diet, according to the article in Nature.  Dutch researchers have linked the steady decline of 60% of the insect-eating birds they studied to the introduction, in the late 1990s, of imidacloprid, the most commonly used neonicotinoid.  These substances are nerve poisons, and they have migrated into our soil and water.  Once in a waterway, there is little to limit the distance they can travel.  What these researchers found was that the regions with the highest levels of nerve poison in the soil and water had experienced the biggest declines in birds that eat insects during the breeding season.

In fact, only 5 percent of the insecticide winds up in the plant.  One percent of it gets blown away.  All the rest accumulates, over the course of multiple applications, in the surrounding soil and water.  As a result, insects that spend any part of their life cycle in the water are probably being killed, as well.  This adds up to unbelievable numbers of North American songbirds that are threatened with extinction: kingbirds, warblers, whip-poor-wills and other nightjars, swifts, swallows, martins, flycatchers, and others.  Their populations have plummeted by 50 to 90 percent.

For this reason, the American Bird Conservancy has called for an immediate and permanent ban on the use of neonicotinoids.  Ask your state legislators what action they are taking to stop the use of neonicotinoids in your state.  Tell your federal representatives that you agree with the American Bird Conservancy.  Congratulate Home Depot on their decision to no longer carry products containing neonicotinoids.  Shop there!  Find a list of bannable products at www.beyondpesticides.org/pollinators/documents/pesticide_list_final.pdf.

Do something!



With thanks to Stephen Leahy and Nature.

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