Why The BrogaNazi Tobacco Playbook? A century of lead poisoned eugenics, being Why Climate Change and: The Playbook for Poisoning THE EARTH: “The pesticide industry is using Big Tobacco’s PR tactics to try and spin the science about their products’ links to bee declines and delay action while they keep profiting,” said Archer, whose group, Friends of the Earth, has documented the lobbying tactics of pesticide makers.
When neonics hit the market three decades ago, they were the first new class of insecticide invented in nearly 50 years, and their use skyrocketed.
As early as the late 17th century, farmers found that they could grind tobacco plants and use nicotine extract to kill beetles on crops. Nicotine acts as an organic insecticide, binding to nerve receptors and causing paralysis and death in aphids, white flies, and other plant-eating insects.
Attempts to use nicotine for a mass-market pesticide, however, frustrated scientists. In early research, sunlight diluted the effectiveness of nicotine-based products. But that changed just over three decades ago, when Bayer scientists at Nihon Bayer Agrochem, the firm’s Japanese subsidiary, first synthesized neonicotinoids in the 1980s — a compound that not only withstood heat and sunlight, but could be applied to the root or seed of a plant and remain effective for that plant’s entire lifespan.
Neonics were hailed as the “Goldilocks compound” because they are “not too hard, not too soft, but just right.”
The new chemical came just in time. Farmers and regulators were seeking alternatives to another class of pesticides — organophosphates, nerve agents sprayed on crops — that had been found to cause cancer in humans. Initial studies of neonics showed that the compound was acutely toxic to insects but unlikely to cause harm to mammals.
As one scientist for Bayer described the invention in a 1993 Science magazine article hailing the introduction of the new class of chemicals, neonics were the “Goldilocks compound” because they are “not too hard, not too soft, but just right.”
And because seeds could be pretreated with neonics, which were absorbed and expressed through the tissue, nectar, and pollen, they could be also produced on an industrial scale, providing agriculture crops with an efficient insect-killing capability without the need for expensive spray treatments or constant reapplication.
In other words, farmers could soak the ground and seeds with enormous amounts of the compound to avoid problems from pests in the future. The delivery mechanism saved money for farmers but set the conditions for chronic overuse of the pesticides.