Ag coalition issues reports documenting the benefits of neonics

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014-- A series of reports released today by a coalition of agricultural companies shows, in part, that without the use of widely used and controversial insecticide, North American farmers would need to resort to using more and older chemicals.

Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and Valent U.S.A. Corporation formed the Growing Matters coalition and commissioned the study from AgInfomatics to evaluate the economic and societal benefits of neonicotinoids, which are the largest selling insecticide class in the world.

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A total of 15 reports from the study will be released over the next few months. The first three reports from the research released today are: A qualitative perspective of the value of neonicotinoids from farmers and other agricultural professionals based on eight listening sessions; a case study of neonicotinoid use in Florida citrus; and a case study of neonicotinoid use in mid-South cotton.

Overall, AgInfomatics evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the United States and Canada. 

According the coalition, the new research shows that a loss of neonicotinoids would force growers to rely on multiple and older classes of insecticides. More foliar sprays of broad-spectrum insecticides would be used in place of targeted seed or soil treatments. Across some commodity crops evaluated, the study found that each pound of neonicotinoid lost would be replaced by nearly five pounds of older insecticides.

Research included commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sorghum and canola, specialty crops such as citrus, vegetables and grapes, plus turf, ornamental and landscape uses.

Some have questioned the value of neonicotinoids while also pointing to it as a major cause for pollinator population declines. Environmental groups have petitioned the agency to suspend the use of neonicotinoids until it finds more information on how they affect pollinator species. Additionally, Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and John Conyers, D-Mich., and 58 other members of the House, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy her to suspend the use of neonicotinoids.

Last week, EPA released an analysis that found neonicotinoids have no yield benefit for soybeans. The public comment period on the analysis is open until December 22, 2014. Syngenta, CropLife America and other agricultural entities are preparing comments for the agency, which will likely include data from the Growing Matters study.

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