"Far from protecting food production, the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperiling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem."
Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are essentially nerve agents, in the same class as nicotine. Plants absorb the chemicals into their cells, making every part of the plant toxic to insects, from the roots, to the stem, to the leaves, to the flower and pollen, as well as to the fruit or vegetable produced by the plant.
Neonics were adopted in the early 1990s as the pesticide of the moment because they worked so well and were thought to be worlds safer than DDT, the nightmarish pesticide used for about 30 years, from the 40s into the 70s, that seriously harmed organisms of every size and shape. And for humans, as far as we know at the moment, neonics are safer.
Tim Brown, of the Pesticide Research Institute and a co-author of the Friends of Earth report, told Discovery News: "Neonics are not acutely toxic to humans, which has allowed them to not go under very close investigation. But we need to understand the cumulative effects on humans."