From Green Right Now Reports
Several years ago researchers pinpointed a class of insecticides known as neonicitinoids as having an especially devastating impact on honey bees.
These types of pesticides affect the neurological systems of insects that come into contact with them when feeding on the pollen of treated crops.
Neonicitinoids appear to disorient food-gathering bees, which lose their way home, leading to the sudden collapse of entire hives. The phenomenon, these researchers said, was the underlying cause of “colony collapse disorder,” which became the catchall term for the sudden collapse of bee hives being observed around the globe.
Not everyone agreed. Many other researchers blamed a virus or hunger and other factors for causing colony collapse disorder, even after colleagues in the field began fingering pesticides as the key factor in CCD.
But the fog around CCD is clearing. This month, European scientists said they are convinced that the neonicitinoid pesticides, which include imidacloprid, the world's most widely used insecticide, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, pose a clear threat to bees.
Bees, so integral to the life of plants, must be protected from direct exposure to these chemicals, they said in a January report by the European Food Safety Authority.
The scientists looked at three ways the bees were exposed to neonicotinoids: from pollen and nectar of the flowers of treated plants; from dust produced by sowing treated seeds or the application of granules and exposure to fluids from treated plants.
They concluded that these types of chemicals should only be used on plants that do not attract honey bees and that bees should be considered in future risk assessments of agricultural chemicals.
Environmentalists hailed the report as potential lifesaver for bee populations.
“This is a major turning point in the battle to save our bees,” Friends of the Earth’s Andrew Pendleton told The Guardian.
“EFSA have sounded the death knell for one of the chemicals most frequently linked to bee decline and cast serious doubt over the safety of the whole neonicotinoid family. Ministers must wake up to the fact that these chemicals come with an enormous sting in the tail by immediately suspending the use of these pesticides.”
Bayer, the maker of imidacloprid, responded to the news by issuing a statement that the European scientists were relying on an “over-interpretation” of the precautionary principle.
The precautionary principle is a guideline used in Europe to evaluate chemicals and additives. It’s been credited (or blamed) for keeping genetically modified crops largely out of the European Union.
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