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article imageBees prefer nectar laced with insecticide

By Tim Sandle     Aug 9, 2015 in Environment
London - As controversy mounts over the U.K.’s decision to allow the limited use of neonic pesticides — troubling new research shows bees are drawn to plants sprayed with the powerful insect-killing chemical.
As Digital Journal recently reported, the Conservative Government in the U.K. has allowed the "controlled" use of neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides to go ahead. This pesticide is banned or heavily restricted in the rest of Europe and in most parts of Canada.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are a form of neuro-active insecticides. They are similar in chemical structure to nicotine. The pesticides are used to kill aphids, on the basis that aphids destroy valuable crops. Examples include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin.
The problem with the use of the pesticide is that it kills insects indiscriminately. Neonicotinoids can cause harm to bees, as stated in a report by Europe's 29 academies of sciences.
In relation to this, the U.K. government department responsible has said: “Based on the evidence, we have followed the advice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and our Chief Scientist that a limited emergency authorization of two pesticides requested by farmers should be granted in areas where oil rape crops are at greatest risk of pest damage.”
According to Dr Barbara Knowles, a senior science policy adviser at the Royal Society of Biology, following the go-ahead for the trial the government was “variously accused of suppressing its advisory committee minutes and making decisions based on industry lobbying while ignoring petitions from over 500,000 members of the public.”
Moreover, a new research report from Europe re-emphasizes the risk that pesticide poses to bees. More worryingly, it seems that bees are drawn to plants sprayed with the pesticide. The report indicates: “Honeybees and bumblebees prefer feeding on nectar laced with certain neonicotinoid pesticides to uncontaminated food.”
This dispels predictions from some scientists, and the British government that bees will avoid food contaminated with neonicotinoid pesticides. The research examined bee behavior against solutions laced with the pesticide and sugar-only preparations. The findings have been published in the journal Nature, in a paper headed “Bees prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides.”
More about Bees, Pesticides, Insecticides, Nature
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