The agricultural industry in this country has always been a bulwark of our economy. We not only grow food for the United states but our crops are a huge part of our export industry as well. We ship products all over the world as well as providing food aid to a number of countries which increases and maintains the steady demand of products in our own market. This high level of demand requires a consistent and bountiful supply of goods and that necessity has contributed to the development and industrialization of the growing process over the last century. In the last few decades in particular, we’ve used a number of chemicals to overcome what was once an unpredictable challenge when growing bulk amounts of food. That challenge being pests or more specifically insects. Insects are easily one of the main negative factors a grower must consider when planting and maintaining a crop. A specific insect is capable of wiping out an entire season's produce which could cripple and even bankrupt the grower. Some insects are named after the plant they devour as it is truly their only purpose in life. For this reason, millions of dollars in research and innovation is dedicated each year to combating the threat of pests. Plants have been modified to be less appealing to their common pests or more resistant to their attacks. They are made to be more resilient to their attacks and more capable of producing a larger crop that could more easily take the hit of some loss due to pests. Even with all of this, the biggest preventative measure most growers take to protect their crop is pesticide or insecticide use. Insecticides like Acetamiprid kill an insect after ingestion of the chemical-treated plant. Acetamiprid works by interrupting the brain signals within an insect's body causing an over-excited stage, a paralysis stage and finally death. Acetamiprid belongs to a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoids are one of the most widely used classes of insecticide taking up more than 25% of the global insecticide market. They are chemically similar to nicotine which has raised a few questions within the scientific community. In rodents, the effects of acetamiprid in particular were seen to cause a similar neurological response as nicotine and it has been noted that in insects the effect of neonicotinoids can be several thousands times the strength of nicotine. While more research is needed to definitively say what this means for human ingestion, the formal recommendation is that, at the very least, neonicotinoids should be removed from the supply chain for baby food as the highest risk category observed was that of developing children. Neonicotinoids are absorbed through the roots and travel to every part of the plant so this risk could not be mitigated by peeling or washing the fruit or veggie. This fact is also the reason they are so detrimental to bees and other beneficial insects as they do not discriminate between victims and are a major contributing factor in our perilous losses in the bee population.
In addition to developmental risks for children, neonicotinoids or neonics have also been linked to erectile dysfunction, a decline in overall male fertility with neonics impacting sperm quality and quantity, shifting levels of estrogen in women, and a wide range of neurological illnesses such at autism and Alzheimer's disease.
While industry leaders try to convince the public that neonicotinoids are completely safe for human consumption, the research suggests that regularly consuming any of these toxins will have negative results. As one expert pointed out, most industry research supporting their safety has done so by isolating each chemical and demonstrating how that one chemical's exposure alone is unlikely to exceed the recommended threshold for neonicotinoid exposure. However, the research shows that it is highly improbable that a person will only be exposed to one neonicotinoid at a time. More likely, an individual is exposed to 4 or 5 different chemicals at one time and this combined impact is strangely missing for industry reports.
For more information on neonicotinoids and their diverse impacts on the human and bee populations, check out the resources listed below.
Here is the link to "Potential pathways of pesticide action on erectile function – A contributory factor in male infertility": https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2305050015000305
Neonic Pesticides: Potential Risks to Brain and Sperm, https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/neonic-pesticides-potential-risks-brain-and-sperm
Cimino, A. M., Boyles, A. L., Thayer, K. A., & Perry, M. J. (2017). Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticide Exposure on Human Health: A Systematic Review. Environmental health perspectives, 125(2), 155–162. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP515
Kimura-Kuroda, J., Komuta, Y., Kuroda, Y., Hayashi, M., & Kawano, H. (2012). Nicotine-like effects of the neonicotinoid insecticides acetamiprid and imidacloprid on cerebellar neurons from neonatal rats. PloS one, 7(2), e32432. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032432
Quan Zhang, Zhengbiao Lu, Chi-Hsuan Chang, Chang Yu, Ximing Wang, Chensheng Lu,Dietary risk of neonicotinoid insecticides through fruit and vegetable consumption in school-age children,Environment International,Volume 126,2019,Pages 672-681,ISSN 0160-4120,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.02.051.