Chemistry

Neonicotinoid pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine in the tobacco plant, which many insects do not like, are seed treatments created to protect plants when they are most vulnerable to pests. They were also designed to be better for the environment, including non-pest insects, but a statistical blip in bee numbers set off claims that the new pesticides were to blame, and scientist findings that the problem was changing land use patterns and varroa mites fell on deaf ears. A new study affirms that scientists were right all along; at least some neonicotinoid pesticides even improve…
Chloropicrin was first synthesized in 1848 by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse but only became an agricultural tool in 1920, when it was used to cure tomato "soil sickness." After that success it was used to restore pineapple productivity in Hawaii and to address soil fungal problems in California. It became popular as a fungicide, herbicide, insecticide, and nematicide. In 1940, chloropicrin was first used on potato as a wireworm suppressant and then in 1965 for verticillium. Farmers stopped using it on potatoes after that, because environmentalists claimed chloropicrin "sterilized soil…