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article imageA connection between colony collapse disorder and pesticides?

By Chris V. Thangham     Aug 21, 2008 in Environment
The U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) believes there is a connection between colony collapse disorder of bees and pesticides used in crops. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is refusing to show the documents about this connection.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) of bees is a worrying concern for the food industry; without the bees, we will face severe food shortages. With food shortages, we will see a big rise in food prices.
Commercial honey bees pollinate about 90 of America's crops, valued at $15 billion. One third of the U.S. diet is dependent on the honey bees. Apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, berries, peppers, squash, soybeans, almonds, cashews and sunflowers all require or benefit from honey bee pollination. With CCD, however, all these products will suffer massively.
A number of factors have been attributed to colony collapse disorder and one of them is the parasitic mite which affects the bees considerably. That said, there is no known reason as to why CCD occurs.
The NRDC believes there is a positive connection between CCD and pesticides used in crops. They think the U.S. EPA has enough documents to support this theory, but the EPA is not releasing them. To force the EPA to release these documents, the NRDC has filed a lawsuit in the federal court in Washington DC.
Bayer CropScience made a pesticide named Clothianidin, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, for crops. But before they were granted the release to sell on the market, Bayer was asked to submit studies about the product’s impact on bees. NRDC wants these documents, but the EPA refuses to produce them.
Entomologists studied this pesticide independently and found drastic results. One entomologist told Environment News Service (ENS):
"There is conflicting information about the affects of neonicotinoids on honey bees, and different chemicals in this class are known to vary in their toxicity to bees, however the EPA identifies both imidacloprid and clothianidin as highly toxic to honey bees."
Even the EPA fact sheet of the product shows the following:
"It has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other non-target pollinators through the translocation of clothianidin resides in nectar and pollen. In honey bees, the affects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects on the queen."
And when Clothianidin is combined with other fungicides, the toxic levels of neonictinoid increases more than 1,000 times, posing even more dangers to honey bees, according to a North Carolina State University reported in the ENS.
Clothianidin was banned this May in Germany due to concerns about its impact on bees. France banned it a few years ago, but in the U.S. it is still being used as we speak.
More about Colony collapse disorder, Bees, Pesticides
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