by Sandeep Godiyal
February 13, 2013
from NaturalNews Website




In the most recent news about neonicotinoid pesticides, it was reported that European countries have already decided to ban the continuous use of the pesticides because of the presented scientific evidences showing that they continue to endanger bees.


Corporate farms in the U.S., however, continue to ignore the petition associated to the banning of the pesticides filed and presented by the Center for Food Safety.


This is said to lead to the continuous decline of the bee population all over the U.S.



What are neonicotinoid pesticides?

Neonicotinoids refer to a group of insecticides mainly composed of,

  • clothianidin

  • imidacloprid

  • fipronil

  • theamethoxam

These are widely recognized as nerve poisons or neurotoxins that are mainly designed to damage the central nervous system of insects, thereby leading to paralysis and death in the most serious cases.


Among the insects targeted by these pesticides are,

  • vine weevils

  • whitefly

  • termites

  • Colorado potato beetle

  • aphids

Aside from being a major cause of death and paralysis to insects, neonicotinoids are also capable of producing other symptoms not only in target insects but other pests and living organisms as well, including their interference with the navigation systems of the organisms and damage their natural capability to groom.

While the neonicotinoid pesticide is primarily designed as non-lethal when used at low doses, it is water soluble and tends to stay in the soil for several years. Its high level of persistency in both water and soil may cause insects and other living organisms to be continuously exposed to it.


Its negative impact, however, takes place when it starts to target not only the insects that are supposed to be deteriorated, but also those pollinators and organisms that offer benefits to the environment.


These include not only bees but butterflies, hoverflies, moths and aquatic invertebrates as well. The pesticides also tend to negatively affect insect-eating birds, amphibians and bats in an indirect manner.


This leads to the banning of the use of neonicotinoids in various countries including those in Europe.



Neonicotinoid pesticides and their role in the decline of bees in the U.S.

Last year, scientists in the U.S. were puzzled and alarmed by the continued decline in bee population not only in the different states of the U.S. but also in other countries.


But despite the evidence that shows how damaging neonicotinoids are to bees, the U.S. still ignores the petition of other authorized and reputable bodies and agencies to ban or regulate the use of the pesticide.


European countries already have a tight regulation in place when it comes to using neonicotinoids.

Based on the risk assessment process which is being considered in the legislation of European countries, the risks of the pesticide to honey bees are examined in full detail. The governing bodies in Europe also continue to consider all the damaging factors of the use of the pesticide to the bee population including the methods used in applying them and their sub-lethal and lethal effects.


Several countries have also followed suit by making sure that their use of neonicotinoids are banned and regulated not only in crops, but in household products as well.


This leads to more people persuading the U.S. to be one with them in protecting nature's hardest workers, the bees.



EU Proposes Neonicotinoid Pesticide Ban

by Ned Stafford
5 February 2013
from RSC Website




The European Commission has proposed suspending the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides on any agricultural crops that attract bees, populations of which have steadily declined in recent decades.

The two-year suspension would apply across the EU from 1 July. It comes just two weeks after publication of a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that identified ‘a number of risks posed to bees' by three neonicotinoids.


Producers Bayer CropScience and Syngenta strongly disputed the findings, with Syngenta claiming the EFSA acted on ‘political pressure to produce a hurried and inadequate risk assessment.'

But European commissioner for health and consumer policy Tonio Borg said it was time for ‘swift and decisive action' to protect Europe's bee populations, adding that he was initiating a,

‘set of ambitious, but proportionate legislative measures.'

The suspension was generally applauded by environmental groups and scientists who have argued that neonicotinoids have contributed to the decline in bee populations.


But pesticide producers, seed companies and farmer groups have staunchly defended the use of neonicotinoids, saying the decline in bee population has been caused by multiple factors and warning that a ban would hurt the EU economy and threaten jobs.

Specifically, the measure would prohibit sale and use of,

  • clothianidin

  • thiamethoxam

  • imidacloprid,

...on crops attractive to bees, including sunflower, rapeseed, corn and cotton.


It would similarly prohibit sale and use of seeds treated with the three pesticides. Exceptions would include crops and seeds that do not attract bees and winter cereals.


The Commission will review the ban in two years.

Bayer CropScience expressed disappointment with the ‘draconian proposal', adding that it would prefer to ‘achieve a fair and proportional solution'.


The chemical giant said it,

‘shares the concerns surrounding bee health and has been investing heavily in research to minimize the impact of crop protection products on bees.'

The Commission defended the urgency of the proposal by citing the so-called EU precautionary principle, which allows ‘rapid response in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment'.

It is scheduled to meet with agricultural groups and industry on 7 February to discuss the proposed suspension, with a final vote expected on 25 February by a committee of experts representing all EU nations.








Two Studies Point to Common Pesticide as a Culprit in...

Declining Bee Colonies
by Carl Zimmer
March 29, 2012

from NYTimes Website



Scientists have been alarmed and puzzled by declines in bee populations in the United States and other parts of the world. They have suspected that pesticides are playing a part, but to date their experiments have yielded conflicting, ambiguous results.



Radek Pietruszka
European Pressphoto Agency



Protesters in Warsaw, Poland, spoke out on March 15 against the industrialization of farming and its effect on bees.


In Thursday's issue of the journal Science, two teams of researchers published studies suggesting that low levels of a common pesticide can have significant effects on bee colonies. One experiment, conducted by French researchers (A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees), indicates that the chemicals fog honeybee brains, making it harder for them to find their way home.


The other study, by scientists in Britain (Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production), suggests that they keep bumblebees from supplying their hives with enough food to produce new queens.


The authors of both studies contend that their results raise serious questions about the use of the pesticides, known as neonicotinoids.

"I personally would like to see them not being used until more research has been done," said David Goulson, an author of the bumblebee paper who teaches at the University of Stirling, in Scotland.


"If it confirms what we've found, then they certainly shouldn't be used when they're going to be fed on by bees."

But pesticides are only one of several likely factors that scientists have linked to declining bee populations.


There are simply fewer flowers, for example, thanks to land development. Bees are increasingly succumbing to mites, viruses, fungi and other pathogens.


Outside experts were divided about the importance of the two new studies. Some favored the honeybee study over the bumblebee study, while others felt the opposite was true. Environmentalists say that both studies support their view that the insecticides should be banned.


And a scientist for Bayer CropScience, the leading maker of neonicotinoids, cast doubt on both studies, for what other scientists said were legitimate reasons.


David Fischer, an ecotoxicologist at Bayer CropScience, said the new experiments had design flaws and conflicting results.


In the French study, he said, the honeybees got far too much neonicotinoid.

"I think they selected an improper dose level," Dr. Fischer said.

Dr. David Goulson's study on bumblebees might warrant a "closer look," Dr. Fischer said, but he argued that the weight of evidence still points to mites and viruses as the most likely candidates for bee declines.


The research does not solve the mystery of the vanishing bees. Although bumblebees have been on the decline in the United States and elsewhere, they have not succumbed to a specific phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, which affects only honeybees.


Yet the research is coming out at a time when opposition to neonicotinoids is gaining momentum.


The insecticides, introduced in the early 1990s, have exploded in popularity; virtually all corn grown in the United States is treated with them. Neonicotinoids are taken up by plants and moved to all their tissues - including the nectar on which bees feed. The concentration of neonicotinoids in nectar is not lethal, but some scientists have wondered if it might still affect bees.


In the honeybee experiment, researchers at the National Institute for Agricultural Research in France fed the bees a dose of neonicotinoid-laced sugar water and then moved them more than half a mile from their hive.


The bees carried miniature radio tags that allowed the scientists to keep track of how many returned to the hive.


In familiar territory, the scientists found, the bees exposed to the pesticide were 10 percent less likely than healthy bees to make it home. In unfamiliar places, that figure rose to 31 percent.


The French scientists used a computer model to estimate how the hive would be affected by the loss of these bees.


Under different conditions, they concluded that the hive's population might drop by two-thirds or more, depending on how many worker bees were exposed.

"I thought it was very well designed," said May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

But James Cresswell, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Exeter in England, was less impressed, because the scientists had to rely on a computer model to determine changes in the hive.

"I don't think the paper is a trump card," he said.

In the British study, Dr. Goulson and his colleagues fed sugar water laced with a neonicotinoid pesticide to 50 bumblebee colonies.


The researchers then moved the bee colonies to a farm, alongside 25 colonies that had been fed ordinary sugar water.


At the end of each year, all the bumblebees in a hive die except for a few new queens, which will go on to found new hives. Dr. Goulson and his colleagues found that colonies exposed to neonicotinoids produced 85 percent fewer queens. This reduction would translate into 85 percent fewer hives.


Jeffery Pettis, a bee expert at the United States Department of Agriculture, called Dr. Goulson's study "alarming." He said he suspected that other types of wild bees would be shown to suffer similar effects.


Dr. Pettis is also convinced that neonicotinoids in low doses make bees more vulnerable to disease.


He and other researchers have recently published experiments showing that neonicotinoids make honeybees more vulnerable to infections from parasitic fungi.