There's no denying it. Pesticides are killing honeybees—industry just doesn't want you to know it. Meanwhile, independent studies have been showing clear links between neonicotinoid pesticides and unprecedented bee die-offs that pose a threat not just to nature, but to the entire food supply, given that honeybees pollinate billions of dollars worth of crops around the world each year.
In a move that could help save valuable honeybees, the European Food Safety Authority just reviewed the available evidence and found that the bee-killing-pesticide clothianidin and related neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees. The food-safety group was commissioned by the European Commission to complete the risk assessment. The report has led some countries' environmental leaders to question how these chemicals were even approved in the first place, given that industry-funded science now appears to be fatally flawed.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering the approval of a new neonicotinoid called sulfoxaflor, a chemical that would target bug brain synapses just as other neonicitinoids do, according to Pesticide Action Network. (The agency is seeking public comment on the matter until Feb. 12.
Read More: Bee-Killing Chemical Lurks inside Your Food
Because these chemicals are systemic, they are taken up inside of the plant and wind up in its pollen and nectar. Traces of the chemicals often wind up in the foods people eat, too. It's unclear what long-term consequences that exposure may pose.
Read More: The Toxic Effects of Pesticides
Other pollinators are at risk, as well. A study published in the journal Nature in 2012 found that the neonicotinoid imidacloprid caused bumblebees to become poorer foragers and increased the risk that they would become lost when leaving the colony, symptoms similar to those seen in honeybees' colony collapse disorder plight.
A recent Harvard study published in the Bulletin of Insectology also pinpointed imidacloprid as a culprit, proving that hives exposed to it had a much higher rate of failure compared to hives free of the nerve-damaging chemical.
To do your part to support the bees, eat organic whenever you can. It's better for you and the planet. And urge your legislators to support chemical reform that would make it more difficult for corporations to release toxic products onto the market.
Published on: January 18, 2013
Updated on: January 21, 2013