Scientists: Corn Seed Coating Possible Bee-Killing Culprit
Italian researchers are the latest to identify a common chemical coating applied to corn seeds as a possible culprit in the colony collapse disorder epidemic that has been wiping out honeybee populations around the world.
If the suspicions of more and more researchers prove true, chemical farmers will have wiped out a large portion of their most valuable workforce: unpaid honeybees.
The suspect seed coating, a type of neonicotinoid insecticide, is applied to many genetically engineered corn seeds to kill pests the GMO Bt toxin cannot destroy.
According to International Business Times, authors of the study note the "results show that the environmental release of particles containing neonicotinoids can produce high exposure levels for bees, with lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers."
The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Interestingly, since Italy banned this type of insecticide, colony collapse disorder has virtually disappeared, making neonicotinoid insecticides major suspects in the causes of colony collapse disorder.
In the U.S., the chemical remains in use, despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency's own scientists warned of the danger to the nation's pollinators. In January, Purdue University researchers released another study suggesting the toxic insecticides are killing honeybees, resulting in $15 to $20 billion losses to the commercial agriculture sector annually.
Because the seed coatings are systemic, meaning they are taken up inside of plants, honeybees could be exposed multiple times throughout a crop's lifecycle. In multiple studies performed around the world, researchers detected neonicotinoids in dead bees collected near hives.