The American Seed Trade Association is reiterating its support for seed treatments following a report released earlier this week by the Center for Food Safety which questions neonicotinoid effectiveness and suggests the treatments are "unnecessary in most cases."
The report, a compiled review of 19 previously published studies, suggests that neonicotinoids – which some studies suggest have impacts on bee health –either do not provide a yield benefit or show inconsistent benefits.
The report is being used to support a CFS campaign that is pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to suspend outdoor uses of neonicotinoids pending additional research on concerns of negative impacts on bee health.
It also follows a petition delivered to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy last week, where 500,000 people signed on to demand that the EPA "do something to protect bees and other pollinator species."
"We are asking EPA to follow the EU's lead and recognize that the risks are unacceptably high," CFS and a coalition of other groups – some involved in the EU neonic moratorium – said. "Pollination services provided by honey bees and other, even less studied, wild bees are far too important for agriculture and ecosystems to treat them in a non-precautionary manner."
CFS says that the environmental and economic costs of pesticide seed treatments "are well-known."
"What we learned in our thorough analysis of the peer-reviewed science is that their claimed crop yield benefit is largely illusory, making their costs all the more tragic," Peter Jenkins, co-author of the review and consulting attorney for CFS.
But data from the group Crop Life America, released last year, paints a different picture. The group said in December, 2013, that neonicotinoid seed treatments more than doubled stands of sorghum in Louisiana research trials and "provide excellent control of many insect pests, and have also been shown to improve plant health," CLA President Jay Vroom said.
The American Seed Trade Association is standing in support of seed treatments as well, with President & CEO Andrew LaVigne pointing out Wednesday that treatments can "reduce the environmental impact of the production process by decreasing the number of spray applications of agrichemical products and lessen exposures to non-target species, including humans and the environment."
Read the CFS full review, " Heavy Costs: Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture."