Neonicotonoids Found in Rivers Around the Great Lakes


A recent study found controversial neonicotinoid insecticides in tributaries of the Great Lakes system. Neonicotinoids are the most heavily used insecticides on the planet-designed to attack the nervous systems of insects and protect crops from damage. They are also used by non-farmers in garden and landscaping sprays and products. Once thought to be relatively innocuous to wildlife higher up the food chain, scientists are increasingly reporting toxic effects.

Neonicotinoids are harmful to wildlife and are linked to bird population declines, bee die-off, and harm to aquatic life. Not surprisingly, there was a strong correlation between presence of the chemicals and nearby land cover – for instance, no neonicotinoids were found at the Bad River, which is the only tributary that’s surrounded by forest. Meanwhile, Ohio’s Maumee River, which is surrounded by corn and soybean crops, had some of the highest levels of the chemicals.

The Great Lakes constitute the largest freshwater system on the planet’s surface, and they are a major source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest. As fresh, usable water becomes scarce across other regions, we should do everything we can to protect our great lakes and the ecosystems within them. Neonicotinoid insecticides are not permitted in organic agriculture. You can help decrease the use of these chemicals by buying organic.

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