While public attention has recently focused on the threat to honey bees and bumble bees from neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides, there is growing evidence that another species may be a risk from these pervasive chemicals—humans. Many scientists now say that exposure to neonics may pose a risk to human health. Laboratory tests with cell cultures and rodents led the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to categorize two neonics – imidacloprid and acetamiprid – as possibly impairing the developing human nervous system.
It’s become something of a rite of spring. Every March, newspaper stories sprout about local beekeepers opening their hives to find an ongoing environmental mystery.
Instead of hungry bees ready for the first flights of spring, honeycombs that should be empty after a long winter are full, and instead the hives are empty. For some reason, during winter’s coldest months, these bees chose to leave the hive to perish outside.
Colony collapse disorder continues to impact bees across the United States and the world. As populations decline, though, scientists are struggling to come up with the reasons behind these bee deaths. Now, they may have found one of the impacts. It turns out that two broad-spectrum systemic insecticides, fipornil and imidacloprid, may be especially toxic to honeybees.
If you care about food, you should care about bees. Or, put another way, if you care about food, you should care about what’s happening to bee populations, which, according to recent estimates from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, dropped by 25% percent in the past year, and have been on the decline for the better part of a decade. Ontario has been hit particularly hard this year, with a loss of 58% of bee colonies this past winter. The story south of the border is much the same: it’s estimated that the population of managed honey bees dropped by a quarter from 1990 to 2011 in the United States, leaving the number of hives at its lowest point in a half-century.
The same insecticide nerve poison that is contributing to the shocking declines in bees and other pollinators is also behind the sharp declines in many other insect species, along with insect-eating birds and bats. Even important creatures like earthworms, which keep our soils healthy, are being damaged by systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics) and fipronil, a new four-year international meta-analysis has found.
The world’s most widely used insecticides have contaminated the environment across the planet so pervasively that global food production is at risk, according to a comprehensive scientific assessment of the chemicals’ impacts.
The researchers compare their impact with that reported in Silent Spring, the landmark 1962 book by Rachel Carson that revealed the decimation of birds and insects by the blanket use of DDT and other pesticides and led to the modern environmental movement.
Two researchers at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas have been working together on the New Mexico Pollinator Project, which aims to test native and non-native plants for their ability to attract and retain pollinators at a time when some pollinator populations are under threat.
The massive, worldwide die-off of honeybees has been one of the biggest environmental scares of this new century. The possible extinction of the planet’s most prolific pollinator is more than a bit terrifying, which is why the story has been making headlines. But a closer look reveals that so-called colony collapse disorder, while a real threat, is being remarkably well managed.
For more than a decade, scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of the “colony collapse disorder” that is killing honeybees by the millions.
In an area that utterly relies on bees to pollinate our nut and fruit trees and the rest of the cornucopia of products we grow in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, this mission is critical.
There are many suspects, but one has become the focus of scientists worldwide. Over the past two months, several studies have pointed to a family of pesticides widely used in agriculture but also found in backyard products.
Neonicotinoids appear to have devastating effects across the natural world: we need a global moratorium.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 16th July 2014
Here’s our choice. We wait and see whether a class of powerful pesticides, made by Bayer and Syngenta, is indeed pushing entire ecosystems to oblivion, or we suspend their use while proper trials are conducted. The natural world versus two chemical companies: how hard can this be?
The past few decades of farm economics have created a system in which one-third of the food on our plate now relies on just one pollinator — the honeybee. And it’s dying.
(Reuters) – Home Depot and other U.S. companies are working to eliminate or limit use of a type of pesticide suspected of helping cause dramatic declines in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key American crops, officials said on Wednesday.
The moves include requiring suppliers to label any plants treated with neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides sold through home and garden stores.
Research published this week in the journal Nature links the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to declining populations of some insect-eating birds. The same pesticides, which have been banned in the European Union, have come under fire for possible connections to struggling bee colonies. Cynthia Palmer of the American Bird Conservancy and bee expert Dennis vanEngelsdorp talk about the birds, bees, and environmental protection.
Director, Pesticides Science and Regulation
American Bird Conservancy
It was one of those mysteries no one cracked for years but gripped many: What’s killing all the bees?
In Brevard County, Fla., nearly 12 million bees expired in 2011 in a great dying of almost biblical proportions. Then came news last year that 37 million bees — 37 million — had died that month at a Canadian beekeeping operation. That same month, Oregonians arrived at a Target to find 25,000 bumblebee corpses in the parking lot.
Glenn Morrison doesn’t wear gloves when he works with his bee hives. “My father-in-law told me only the first 1,000 bites hurt,” he said. “I’ve gotten so I can work with the gloves off.” While he’s accustomed to being stung by the bees he keeps, he can’t get used to the catastrophic diseases that have decimated his hives.