Pesticides on Brink of Ban Over Honey Bee Losses

Western Farm Press   by Chris Bennett in Farm Press Blog    2/20/13

  • A neonicotinoid ban might cost Europe up to $23 billion and put 50,000 jobs on the chopping block.
  • For U.S. agriculture and California, the neonicotinoid outcome in Europe may serve as a regulatory road map.

Honey bees are a massive global business, responsible for a third of the world’s food production. Honey bees provide $15 billion in added U.S. crop value each year, and as the USDA reports, “About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.”

It’s difficult to overstate honey bee significance to the planet’s food security. And since 2006, after the bullrush onset of Colony Collapse Disorder, scientists and beekeepers have looked for a source of blame; a cause to explain millions of abandoned hives and billions of dead bees.

The EU, mainly based on the research of Italian biologist Marco Lodesani, thinks it has fingered the culprit: neonicotinoid pesticides. According to Businessweek, three years of research led Lodesani to a conclusion of toxic poisoning: “Our findings show that the bee colonies are dying off in such large numbers, and that the link is pesticides,” said Lodesani. He added that the ‘pharma’ link, as he calls it, is strong enough to rule out other suspected causes, such as a deadly virus, as a principle cause for colony deaths.”

The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA), took Lodesani’s report and ran with it. As a result, neonicotinoid pesticides are on the brink of European ban. On Feb. 25, the EU’s 27 member states will vote on a proposed two-year neonicotinoid ban...

Read more...

Bees, Lies and Evidence-based Policy

(The following was submitted by Mary Beth Murril throuch LACBA Sec, Stacy McKenna)  

Nature.com  By Lynn Dicks   2/20/13

Misinformation forms an inevitable part of public debate, but scientists should always focus on informing the decision-makers, advises Lynn Dicks.

Saving bees is a fashionable cause. Bees are under pressure from disease and habitat loss, but another insidious threat has come to the fore recently. Concern in conservation and scientific circles over a group of agricultural insecticides has now reached the policy arena. Next week, an expert committee of the European Union (EU) will vote on a proposed two-year ban on some uses of clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. These are neonicotinoids, systemic insecticides carried inside plant tissues. Although they protect leaves and stems from attack by aphids and other pests, they have subtle toxic effects on bees, substantially reducing their foraging efficiency and ability to raise young. 

Related stories: