Thomas Hahn (pictured), adjunct professor at the Great Lakes Center, will present "The Value of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment in the European Union" as part of our GLC Seminar Series on Thursday, February 7, at 12:15 p.m. in Classroom Building C122.
Seed treatment is one of the most advanced and targeted forms of crop protection. The chemical ingredient is applied to the seed as a coating prior to planting. In the case of Neonicotinoid seed treatment, the active ingredients act as nerve toxins to insects that block neuron receptors and are selectively much more toxic to insects than to mammals. The insecticide is absorbed and distributed within the plant as it grows. This enables the plant to control pests that feed on it below or above ground. These threats to the plant can easily destroy the harvest, wasting huge amounts of natural resources (water, soil, nutrients), energy, and labour. Neonicotinoid seed treatment is used throughout the world on some of our key crops such as cereals, corn, oil seed rape, sugar beet, and sun flower and has become an integral component of modern agriculture in Europe.
In recent years, this key agricultural technology has come under pressure because of the alleged role it plays in the worrying decline in bee health and the EU Commission has charged the European Food Safety Authority with a review of the safety of Neonicotinoid seed treatment. In this context and with the goal to provide guidance to political decision makers and stakeholders, the authors of a study recently published by the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture, have investigated the socio-economic contribution of this technology to the European Union as well as the impact to the global environment.
The study shows that Neonicotinoid seed treatment contributes more than EUR 2 bn annually to commodity crop revenues and reduces production cost by nearly EUR 1 bn annually across the EU. Over a 5-year period, the technology contributes more than EUR 17 bn to the wealth of the European Union. Over 1 million people in the EU are engaged in arable production using Neonicotinoid treated seeds. The technology directly supports 50,000 full time farm workers and generates 5% of average additional income to farmers. If Neonicotinoid seed treatment technology were lost in the EU, 3.3 million hectares of generally less productive arable land outside the EU would have to be brought into production. The environmental cost of converting this land for arable use would be around 600 million tons of additional CO2 emissions, equivalent to up to EUR 15 bn in emission certificate value.
Students, faculty, and staff are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.
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