Bee-Killing Pesticides Damage Children’s Brain and Nervous System, Says European Authority

Beyond Pesticides

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Bee-Killing Pesticides Damage Children’s Brain and Nervous System, Says European Authority

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2013) The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced on Tuesday that pesticides linked to honey bee deaths worldwide may also damage human nervous systems —in particular the brain, and recommended that the European Commission lower the guidance levels of acceptable exposure until more research is conducted. This new determination heightens the call to ban the use of these toxic chemicals in the U.S., following the lead of the European Union (EU).

EFSA found that two commonly used chemicals “may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structure associated with functions such as learning and memory” particularly of children. The recommendation focuses on two chemicals —acetamiprid and imidacloprid— in a relatively new class of insecticide called neonicotinoids. Three chemicals in this class were recently placed under a two-year ban in the European Union (EU) for uses on flowering crops known to attract honey bees. Continue reading “Bee-Killing Pesticides Damage Children’s Brain and Nervous System, Says European Authority”

Beekeeping Industry Challenge EPA to Reevaluate Toxic Bee-Killing Pesticide

Beekeeping Industry Challenge EPA to Reevaluate Toxic Bee-Killing Pesticide

Beekeeping business struggling to stay afloat amid costly threat from pesticide
December 6, 2013
San Francisco, CA —

National beekeeping organizations along with the National Honey Bee Advisory Board and the Pollinator Stewardship Council have filed an opening brief in an appeal challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, shown to be “highly toxic” to honey bees, and other insect pollinators. Sulfoxaflor is the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the “neonicotinoid” class of pesticides and is considered by the EPA to be “highly toxic.” Many scientists across the globe have linked this class of pesticides as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony losses. The case was filed as the beekeeping industry across the country struggles for survival and faces the costly effects of pesticides upon their businesses.

Honeybee. (Vijay SRV)

The pesticide sulfoxaflor has been shown to be “highly toxic” to honey bees, and other insect pollinators. Photo Courtesy of Vijay SRV Continue reading “Beekeeping Industry Challenge EPA to Reevaluate Toxic Bee-Killing Pesticide”

Colony Collapse Disorder And The Human Bee

Colony Collapse Disorder And The Human Bee

Holding Handfulls of Dead Bees Colony Collapse Disorder - Colony Colapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder And The Human Bee. The honey bee continues to disappear at a dramatic rate worldwide. Many beekeepers estimate that, at the current rate of bee loss, there now may be only a ten year window to find a cause and a cure for this malady. In fact, the British Beekeepers Association has warned that honeybees could disappear entirely from Great Britain by 2018.

Colony Collapse Disorder

This mystery of the disappearing honey bee is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Colony Collapse Disorder is unique since it leaves bee hives with a queen bee, a few newly-hatched adults, and plenty of food, while all of the worker bees responsible for pollination just disappear. The truth is that the number of disappearing bees worldwide is quite staggering.

In the United States, beekeepers lost 35 percent of their hives last winter, after losing 30 percent the previous year. Internationally, similar widespread bee losses have been reported throughout Canada, Brazil, India and China, as well as throughout Europe

In general, international government agencies and organizations like the United Nations have done little to solve this escalating problem. In the United States, the House of Representatives held an emergency hearing last June on the status of bee pollinators in North America. The result of that hearing was an allocation of million to honeybee research attached to the farm bill. However, that funding was subsequently cut in half during the last year. So far, in 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made just million available to a consortium of universities for research into the problem of disappearing honey bees.

Unfortunately, international politicians are more focused on the potential warming effect of CO2 emissions on the planet during the next century. This apparent proactive approach to global climate change obscures the more immediate environmental threat that Colony Collapse Disorder poses to our health, diet, and food supply. Indeed, a world without the pollination of the honey bee would be truly devastating to national and international agriculture and it may occur within the next decade.

In fact, honey bee pollination is responsible for the growth of all fruits and many vegetables as well as livestock feed. It is estimated that bees pollinate one third of American food and three quarters of plants, including crops, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, even cotton that is used in fabrics.

With the current lack of government response, the complexity of the research into the problem, and the rate of annual bee loss, it may be time for us to look at the world of agriculture without the pollination of the honey bee.

For an immediate glimpse of this dubious future, we can look to Maoxian County of Sichuan, China. It is an area that has lost it pollinators through the indiscriminate use of pesticides and the over-harvesting of its honey. The result is that hand pollination of pear and apple trees has become a common practice. In this part of China, the honey bee has been replaced by the human bee.

Consider that every spring for the last two decades, thousands of villagers have climbed through fruit trees hand-pollinating blossoms by dipping “pollination sticks”(brushes made of chicken feathers and cigarette filters) into plastic bottles of pollen and then touching them against each of the tree’s billions of blossoms. Could this method of pollination be a glimpse of our future? Humans replacing bees by hand pollinating trees and plants in an attempt to produce one third of our food staples.

Of course, it will be expensive to hire human bee pollinators. Remember that nature used to provide this service in the past for free. Consider that the cost of the loss of the pollination of the honey bee has been estimated at anywhere between fourteen billion and ninety two billion dollars in the United States alone.

In fact, many farms may not be able to profitably pass on such a large cost to consumers, resulting in many food staples that will no longer be grown. Of the food supply that will remain, price inflation will leave it out of the economic reach of many worldwide. Global famine will increase and diets will change. The result will be dramatic devastation for international human health.

In the future, other types of bees could potentially be trained as pollinators. However, to date, that experiment has not shown a great deal of efficiency. The result of Colony Collapse Disorder may well mean the honey bee will be replaced by the human bee. Unfortunately, the human pollinator is an expensive agricultural answer and does not provide a feasible solution to the environmental problem of disappearing honey bees.

Article by James W. Smith

James William Smith has worked in Senior management positions for some of the largest Financial Services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years.

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Honey Bee Die-Off Caused By Multiple Factors Including Pesticides

Honey Bee Die-Off Caused By Multiple Factors Including Pesticides

May 2, 2013 by Theresa Riley

A carniolan honey bee works the hyacinth in Washington Park in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)A carniolan honey bee works the hyacinth in Washington Park in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A federal study attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity. Nearly a third of honey bee colonies in the United States have been wiped out since 2006. The estimated value of crops lost if bees were no longer able to pollinate fruits and vegetables is around $15 billion.

The report comes on the heels of an announcement Monday by the European Union that they are banning the use of pesticides that may be harmful to bees for two years. The measure is being closely watched here because the insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, have been in wide use for the past decade. Many studies, including the study released today by the USDA, have made a link between the insecticides — which are used to ward off pests such as aphids and beetles — and honeybee deaths. European researchers will conduct further experiments over the two-year period to assess whether the chemicals are a contributing factor in “colony collapse disorder.” Continue reading “Honey Bee Die-Off Caused By Multiple Factors Including Pesticides”