Nerve agents in honey

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Science  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 38-39
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6000

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  • RE: Nerve agents in honey

    Whilst browsing the Science AAAS website, I came across the article perspective "Nerve agents in honey". At first, I was extremely intrigued to read the commentary as I believed they found warfare agents in honey!!!!
    Only after reading it more carefully, I realised the topic was pesticides.
    Nerve agents are "historically" renowned WARFARE AGENTS. As Amy Arcus writes in the e-letter, "nerve agents" are referred to with the same definition by public health, military and dictionary sources (e.g. CDC, OSHA, Merriam-Webster, CollinsDictionary, DoD) and this definition DOES NOT include neonicotinoids.
    Whilst it is clear that chemicals acting within the nervous system can be classified with similar definitions, it is unacceptable that the author insists on calling Neonicotinoids "Nerve Agents". This is clearly not the case; but this is only part of the real problem. The actual real problem is the idea, the negative implication that naming pesticides as "nerve agents" could have on the public domain.
    This is unacceptable from a scientific view point. This is unacceptable from a professional view point. This is pure media sensationalism.
    I urge Science AAAS to address this rather misleading "message", with a letter or commentary clarifying the title.
    Such mistakes could have a detrimental impact on society.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Nerve agent being incorrect

    The use of the term nerve agent is scientifically correct, neonicotinoids are agents that work on nerves. As the article clearly explains, the parental neonicotinoid chemicals are not thought to be a significant risk to human health at the low levels found in honey. Nevertheless, any nerve agent, at its neuroactive concentration, would make a dangerous weapon when used as a nerve gas.
    Amy Arcus works for California EPA and has been involved in neonicotinoid projects in this role. There has been a dramatic increase in use of neonicotinoids in the US and their economic value to the US is >$1.4 billion. The US EPA has repeatedly defended the safety and need for the use of neonicotinoids. Scientific evidence has demonstrated both to be untrue.
    Therefore, the claim that Amy Arcus has no competing interests and nothing to declare is disingenuous.

    Competing Interests: Author of this review and an independent scientist with no vested interest into whether neonicotinoids are dangerous or not. Indeed, I have published evidence where one neonicotinoid was not toxic to bumblebees (other neonicotinoids were toxic).
  • RE: Nerve Agents in Honey

    The use of the term "nerve agent" in this perspective is very misleading. "Nerve agents" have an entirely different mode of action and are in a different class of chemicals relative to neonicotinoids. The term "nerve agent" is and has consistently been given the same definition by public health, military and dictionary sources (e.g. CDC, OSHA, Merriam-Webster, CollinsDictionary, DoD) and this definition does not include neonicotinoids, "Nerve agents" are highly fatal to people (very small amounts kill) and were designed for chemical warfare. People rightfully regard "nerve agents" with fear. Neonicotinoids may have detrimental effects on bees but they are not "nerve agents" in the typical and well-accepted sense of the term. This perspective article should be re-titled and all references to "nerve agents" in it should be omitted -- immediately!

    Competing Interests: None declared.