The analysis, howerver, was no ringing endorsement of organic agriculture, as it compared neonic-treated seeds with other chemical-dependent methods, including the use of foliar spraying of neonics on soybean plants.

Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director at Center for Food Safety, told Common Dreams that it’s a shame that the analysis goes back to foliar sprays, and that the agency appears to be looking not at systemic contamination from neonics but at best management of them.

“That’s not enough,” she said, adding that her organization has long said that neonics should not be used at all in agricultural or ornamental applications, as their harm to pollinators and ecosystems is “beyond overwhelming.”

In June, for example, an international team of scientists published an analysis based on 800 peer-reviewed reports that found that neonics pose a threat to global biodiversity, while a study by the U.S. Geological Survey published in July found widespread contamination in Midwest waterways from neonics.

As that global analysis and Walker point out, neonics’ “mode of action is systemic. They’re going to build up in soil and water.” Whether it’s through seed coating, foliar sprays or soil drenching, it’s the same chemicals, she said.

“It’s still persistent, still poses environmental problems, harm to pollinators, ecosystems, and potentally human health.”

We know that there are better approaches, like using agro-ecological methods that don’t rely on systemic pesticides, Walker said.

“The bottom line is we’ve been asking the EPA to suspend all use of neonics,” Walker said. The new analysis is a small step, but there’s much more to do, she said.

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