Reuters / Nicolas Misculin
The Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that a popular class of insecticide used to treat soybean seeds provides little or no benefit to the farmers – the pesticide, however, is the prime suspect for the deaths of 30 million honeybees.
The EPA’s Biological and Economic Analysis Division (BEAD) made its conclusion after analyzing 26 published studies on the pesticide-treated soybean seeds and studying yields over a four-year period. They found no difference in soybean yield when using the treated seed, and it did not protect the bean any better than if there was no pest control.
The class of insecticides in question are called neonicotinoids, which work on insects by damaging their central nervous systems, causing tremors, paralysis, and death. The insecticide is absorbed into treated plants and distributed in their vascular systems, rendering various parts – including the roots, leaves, stem, flowers, nectar, pollen, and guttation fluid – toxic to insects.
Soybeans are planted on 76 million acres in the US – the majority in the Corn Belt (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio), and Northern Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota). The average value of the soybean yield is $38 billion per annum.