Eating the equivalent of one neonicotinoid treated seed does major harm to birds.
When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962 the environment was at a pretty low ebb. Through the use of DDT and other pesticides we nearly lost many species, especially at the higher end of the food chain where these poisons accumulated, e.g. raptors such as Peregrine Falcons. Carson's book eventually provoked modern environmental legislation, leading to the banning of DDT and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But now we're doing it again, but this time at the bottom of the food chain, through the use of neonicotinoids.
The catastrophic decline in insect populations has multiple causes, but new pesticides are undoubtedly one of them. Loss of insects is bad news for the entire food chain, including birds, but now it appears that neonicotinoids also harm birds directly. New research published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports analysed the effect of a neonicotinoid on white-crowned sparrows that migrate from the southern US and Mexico to northern Canada in summer. Birds were given doses equivalent to less than a single corn seed and within hours became weak, developed stomach problems and stopped eating. They quickly lost 17-25% of their weight, depending on the dose, and were unable to identify the northward direction of their migration.
On Twitter, Jon Knight called this "Silent Spring 2.0". Which makes you think...
Read more about this in The Guardian: