Pesticides: A Primer on the Predominant Sorts


canola seeds covered with blue pesticide scattered in dark tilled soil

This quick article is a sidebar to our primary story on neonicotinoid pesticides and their results on birds.

Pesticide, within the broadest sense, refers to any chemical designed to kill animal pests or weeds. Pesticides particularly goal invertebrates and are organized into completely different courses by their chemical properties and the way they work. A few of the most prevalent courses of pesticides embrace:   

  • Organochlorines (OCs): Consists of DDT and associated compounds like endrin, dieldrin, chlordane and lindane. First synthesized in 1874, DDT got here into broad use throughout and after World Warfare II by way of the early Seventies. Persistent within the setting, OCs bioaccumulate in fats. They’ve largely been banned within the developed world however are nonetheless used within the growing world, together with DDT for malaria management.  
  • Organophosphates (OPs): Methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, fenthion, trichlorfon and associated OPs had been among the many most generally used pesticides within the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, after the hazards of OCs had been acknowledged. OPs are extremely poisonous, crippling the nervous system not solely in bugs but in addition in vertebrates like birds, and have been implicated in giant chicken kills. Though they rapidly break down within the setting, their acute toxicity has led to bans within the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Chlorpyrifos was banned by the EPA in February 2022.  
  • Carbamates: Additionally extensively used within the late 1900s/early 2000s and related in perform to OPs, N-methyl carbamates embrace such extremely poisonous compounds as carbofuran, carbaryl (Sevin) and methomyl. Carbofuran is banned in Canada and the European Union, and successfully banned within the U.S. Like OPs, carbamates have been implicated in large-scale chicken kills.  
  • Neonicotinoids: A category of artificial compounds modeled on nicotine, together with imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, thiacloprid and dinotefuran, launched within the Nineties and extremely poisonous to bugs. Neonics are systemic pesticides, absorbed from seed coatings into your entire plant, and particularly helpful towards sucking bugs like aphids. Nevertheless, they’re extremely persistent within the setting and in water.
  • Diamides: A more recent substitute for neonicotinoids, diamides are systemic pesticides sprayed on foliage, utilized to soil or to seeds. They’ve related persistence and water-solubility traits as neonics. One diamide registered within the U.S., cyantraniliprole, is taken into account extremely poisonous to bees, however has been known as “virtually non-toxic” to birds by the EPA, at the very least when it comes to direct consumption.   


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