Environmental Risks and Challenges Associated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 20;52(6):3329-3335. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06388. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


Neonicotinoid use has increased rapidly in recent years, with a global shift toward insecticide applications as seed coatings rather than aerial spraying. While the use of seed coatings can lessen the amount of overspray and drift, the near universal and prophylactic use of neonicotinoid seed coatings on major agricultural crops has led to widespread detections in the environment (pollen, soil, water, honey). Pollinators and aquatic insects appear to be especially susceptible to the effects of neonicotinoids with current research suggesting that chronic sublethal effects are more prevalent than acute toxicity. Meanwhile, evidence of clear and consistent yield benefits from the use of neonicotinoids remains elusive for most crops. Future decisions on neonicotinoid use will benefit from weighing crop yield benefits versus environmental impacts to nontarget organisms and considering whether there are more environmentally benign alternatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Insecta
  • Insecticides*
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Pollen


  • Insecticides
  • Neonicotinoids