Could there be a link between Neonicotinoids and autism ?

Neonicotinoids are a widely used pesticide that recent studies have found may be a major factor behind colony collapse disorder in bees.  I remember thinking a while back that some of the symptoms of colony collapse disorder were pretty similar to the kinds symptoms that neonicotinoids evoked in pests, to destroy them..

Someone should do a study to see if autism rates are related to the prevalence of neonicotinoids in the food and environment. Wikipedia says, “[neonicotinoids] may adversely affect human health, especially the developing brain.”
And we know that autism is a brain developmental disorder.
Are there any enterprising scientists out there ? This could be a Nobel prize winning research if it turns out to be strongly correlative..

“Animal studies have found that neonicotinoid exposures during gestation and early life may permanently alter nervous system functions. ” (quoted from http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/faq/ ).  One of the studies was done on rats, which found that neonicotinoids had an adverse impact on their neurological development.

If neonicotinoids can have an adverse impact on rats, it seems likely that it would have a similar adverse impact on human neurological development.

“USDA produce testing has found imidacloprid [a  neonicotinoid insecticide] on 23 kinds of fruits and vegetables, including apples, peaches, broccoli and blueberries.” (also from http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/faq/ ).

One question that immediately comes to mind is, what levels of neonicotinoids are present in the foods that we eat ?  And can we correlate the amount of neonicotinoids ingested during the first couple years of a child’s life with the incidence of autism ?

I think it’s imperative that someone investigate this issue thoroughly. Looking at the facts: 1. Neonicotinoids are now one of the most widely used pesticides in the world; 2. autism rates have been rising significantly; 3. We know that neonotinoids can adversely affect the developing brain of rats ( “Studies conducted on rats suggest that the neonicotinoids may adversely affect human health, especially the developing brain”, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonicotinoids ); 4. We humans are mammals, just as rats are, so it’s feasible that the developing human brain could be adversely affected by neonicotinoids.

Here’s a similar example with cancer to make it clearer: 1. product X is one of the most widely used pesticides in the world; 2. product X causes cancer in rats.

From these two pieces of information, it's obvious that a study must be done to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that product X does *not* cause cancer in humans, because the existing data strongly suggests that it *will* cause cancer in humans.

Now take a look at the facts of the  neonicotinoids issue.  It's pretty much the same argument, except instead of causing cancer in rats, it causes brain development disorders in rats.

Here’s an interesting quote that indicates that impaired neural development can result from exposure to pesticides:

“Neurodevelopment can be adversely impacted when gene expression is altered by dietary transcription factors, such as zinc insufficiency or deficiency, or by exposure to toxic substances found in our environment, such as mercury or organophosphate pesticides.. ” [http://www.clinicalepigeneticsjournal.com/content/4/1/6/abstract]

Here’s a (purely imaginary) conversation I wish had taken place during the initial development of neonicotinoids:

Scientist: This [neonicontinoid] is a brand new pesticide that will kill harmful insects by attacking their central nervous system.

Dept. Head: How does it distinguish harmful insects from beneficial insects, such as bees ?

Scientist: It doesn’t.

Dept. Head: So it would probably harm the central nervous system of beneficial insects as well.. For a Ph.D., you sure don’t have much common sense. Dude, go back to the drawing board and try again. Don’t bring me a half-assed solution that ends up creating more problems than it solves. You know, if we kill all the bees with this pesticide, we’ll eventually get blamed and end up going out of business..

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jamie Sturgess
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 09:25:49

    I wondered the same thing when reading the science articles about these residuals.

    Reply

  2. Guy
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 11:22:02

    The following says it all:
    The chemicals, which are incorporated into the tissues, leaves and flowers of plants, target the central nervous system (of insects), leading to paralysis and death. Farmers began using them in the early 1990s.

    I heard a disturbing report this morning that Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. We are distroying the human race with chemicals once again. WAKE UP AGRO GIANTS. 90% of the Bee population is wiped out. They polinate our food sources. This is sooo sad. We are harming our children by feeding them. What is this world coming to?

    Reply

  3. Tom Nichols PhD (chemistry), MD
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 21:25:14

    Trust me, there will be no money available in the USA to do any research to resolve this issue.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Neoonicotinoids / acetamiprid and imidacloprid. Alert issued on two commonly used crop pesticides which may damage the brains of children and unborn babies | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.
  5. biglewiston
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 08:52:58

    Reply

  6. Patsy ingoldsby
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 19:45:28

    It should be easy to figure out…..look at countries that ban neonictionoids.

    Reply

  7. Ali
    Sep 28, 2014 @ 12:13:42

    I have been wondering the same thing since watching the documentary “Vanishing of the Bees” (must see if you haven’t). The effects I the bees reported were the same symptoms of Autism in humans. I’ve been hoping some one in the science community would see this too and pioneer the research.

    Reply

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