Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. The development of this class of insecticides began with work in the 1980s by Shell and the 1990s by Bayer. The neonicotinoids were developed in large part because they show reduced toxicity compared to previously used organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. Most neonicotinoids show much lower toxicity in mammals than insects, but some breakdown products are toxic. Neonicotinoids are the first new class of insecticides introduced in the last 50 years, and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world.

The use of some members of this class has been restricted in some countries due to evidence of a connection to honey-bee colony collapse disorder. In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied may be flawed.

In March 2013, the American Bird Conservancy published a review of 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act, calling for a ban on neonicotinoid use as seed treatments because of their toxicity to birds, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife. Also in March 2013, the US EPA was sued by a coalition of beekeepers, as well as conservation and sustainable agriculture advocates who accused the agency of performing inadequate toxicity evaluations and allowing registration of the pesticides to stand on insufficient industry studies.

On April 29, 2013, the European Union passed a two-year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, which are suspected to be the primary cause of bee colony collapse disorder.

Read more about NeonicotinoidHistory, Usage, Mode of Action, Environmental Impacts

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