by Barbara Minton
Portland, Oregon has joined at least seven other cities in banning the usage of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that many scientists think is behind colony collapse disorder and the premature death and dysfunction of many bees and other pollinating insects. The ban applies to all city lands and will be enforced despite the opposition of some nearby farmers who claim neonicotinoids are critical for producing their food crops.
The ever-expanding number of members of the neonicotinoid family are all relative newcomers in the insecticide world. The first commercial neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, appeared in 1985 and is still in use today.
Neonicotinoids are highly neurotoxic, sharing a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in their paralysis and death. Pollinating insects are essential for the growth of numerous crops, including apples, plums, broccoli, peppers, cabbage, Brazil nuts, and cashews.
In 2008, neonicotinoids were scrutinized for their environmental impact in Germany, where they were linked with several adverse ecological effects. In 2013, the EU and some other European countries banned use of certain members of the neonicotinoid family.