I'm not an alarmist, but I am a naturalist who has been a guest in this world we call home for nigh into 94 years. When I was a kid on the farm in West Haven, Connecticut, my grandfather swore by a chemical named, "Black Leaf 40," a so-called "safe" biodegradable agricultural insecticide used around the world since the 1800s. It's 40% nicotine sulfate and classified as little hazard to birds, fish and beneficial insects. Hah!
- Jim Anderson
- This is just one of the millions of birds that are being killed by pesticides annually, and that’s just birds, not to mention the other millions of key insect species that are also killed by pesticides.
However, there was no information on what happened to a bird, fish or beneficial insect when they ate an insect that had died from Black Leaf 40. But there is today! Insecticides are responsible for the death of millions of insects, and birds ingest millions of insects, especially baby birds. Hummingbirds, for example, feed a protein paste to their babies made up of insects the adults harvest while slurping up nectar.
One of the U.S. chemical companies, Dow Chemical, made a statement years back: "Better Living Through Chemistry." But the insecticides that have followed Black Leaf 40 are something to be reckoned with, especially stuff with the derivative of nicotine in them, like the Neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoids (sometimes shortened to neonics) are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine—and nicotine is the guts and feathers of the old Black Leaf 40.
In the 1980s, Shell, and in the 1990s, Bayer, started work on the development of neonics, and today they are the most widely used insecticides in the world—and the most dangerous insecticide in the world.
On June 17, 2013, the largest native bee kill ever recorded occurred in Wilsonville, Oregon. More than 50,000 bumblebees died when 55 blooming linden trees were sprayed with the pesticide known as Safari in a Target parking lot.
Hundreds of wild bumblebee colonies were destroyed and thousands of contaminated bees were dying and gobbled up by birds. The worst thing about that particular incident is that it mirrored what has been going on for way too long: the indiscriminate use of pesticides without anyone monitoring the results on the natural world.
Between neonics, and another deadly chemical, bromethalin, used in "Hawk Bait Chux," stuff applied indiscriminately to kill rodents, a poison that keeps right on killing whatever ingests it— like owls, hawks and eagles—reminds us we're living in the shadow of pretty nasty times. The fate of thousands of bumblebees killed by neonicotinoids made the headlines not too long ago, and yet that stuff is still on the market.
Every day, somewhere in the news, or in general comments in the news about Nature, we learn about the dangers of using chemicals and causing insects to vanish from the Earth, and the tragic results on mankind.
In my opinion, the only thing that matters to businesspeople who work with chemicals is how much money they can make. Just go and look on your computer and see how many businesses have created ways to buy stuff that kill insects and other animals that share this beautiful Earth with us.
Well, on Tuesday, June 7, at 1 pm PST (4pm EST) the American Bird Conservancy is doing a Zoom program on pesticides and other chemicals that are killing approximately 72 million birds annually. Anyone using anything to kill 72 million birds a year has to be stopped!
To learn about this worldwide tragedy, please sign in for ABC's Zoom presentation by going to: https://act.abcbirds.org/a/webinar-pesticides-101
Speakers for the presentation will be:
• Edward "Hardy" Kern, Director of the Pesticides and Birds Campaign, American Bird Conservancy
• Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health Director, Center for Biological Diversity
• Aaron Anderson, Pesticide Program Specialist, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Pesticides 101: How You Can Protect Birds and the Environment
Tue., June 7. 1-2pm PST