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Leaked US memo discloses that pesticide may be responsible for bee decline

23/12/2010 13:55:05

This leak is yet another warning that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides could be contributing to the current decline in wildlife.

US Leak Reignites Pesticide Fears for UK Bees

December 2010. In a leaked memo US government scientists warn that bees and other non-target invertebrates are at risk from a new neonicotinoid pesticide licence and that tests in the approval process are unable to detect environmental damage. This has reignited concerns raised in a 2009 scientific report by UK charity Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

Risk to bees and aquatic insects
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists flagged up the risks to honey-bees and aquatic insects that would result if the US Government approved the request from Bayer to expand the use of the neonicotinoid clothianidin to include cotton and mustard. Click here to read the report.

Neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees and other non-target insects, the biggest concerns are that, being systemic they end up in the pollen and nectar in the flowers of treated crops, and hence could poison pollinators, and that being persistent and mobile they could wash into streams, ponds and rivers and destroy aquatic life.

"We rely on bees and other insects to pollinate our crops and keep our rivers healthy. This leak is yet another warning that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides could be contributing to the current decline in wildlife. We have again asked Government to take protective action," said Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife.

In the leaked memo the EPA scientists state that "information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects" and they criticise existing approvals research as deficient and request additional tests "for additional chronic testing on bee hive activity (e.g., effects to queen, larvae, etc.)." This reflects the conclusions of the 2009 Buglife report that highlighted inadequate testing in the European approvals process and asked the UK Government to: review existing neonicotinoid and fipronil products authorised for outdoor use, with a precautionary suspension of products until the reviews are completed. To-date the UK Government has failed to act on these specific asks, despite the growing body of scientific evidence.

A recent scientific paper stressed the high toxicity of neonicotinoids at very low concentrations, noting that these low-level, long-term effects would not be detected by current test methods for pesticides.

The timing is bad for the UK Government as last week its response to the new EU Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides was accused of being weak, ‘business friendly' and of failing to take the opportunity to provide improved protection to the public or the environment.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

pesticide link.

letter by carey feazel, 'feels this doesn't explain disappearance of bees worldwide.' given that pesticides are used worldwide, i couldn't agree less. i believe the problem is caused by farmers spraying blossom on hot sunny days. this is routinely done around the world and for whatever reason. i don't believe they even need an excuse to get out there with the sprayer; some of them are out there every week spraying this and spraying that. governments around the world actively encourage it by subsidising it at the tax-payers' expence. it might be an idea if they want to save money to look at their farming policies.

Posted by: robert piller | 27 Mar 2011 10:41:43

Keeping the Bees

Pesticides and insecticides are designed to kill living things.Only when governments are or feel held by law to regarding Nature and the Facts of Existence as the pinacles to which they owe allegiace and by which they decide the direction of works produced in society, can we hope to truly master the problem. Until then, we battle field by field, crop by crop, species by species to save the puzzzle pieces of the Lifeform Earth from destruction by partisan narrow economic forces. A world without bees would be so sterile and limitted that many could not, perhaps would wish to survive. The science and the knowledge is there. Wake up governments and smell the flowers before they are all just scents produced by Big Agro and Big Pharma.

Posted by: Cecilie Davidson | 27 Dec 2010 03:39:46

Shooting in the dark

While I find this latest news to be disturbing and reason for concern, I feel this little to help explain the disappearance of honey bees world wide. I don't like it when scientists say something like this. "Well we think we have found what may prove to be a contributing factor to this problem." Which translates to, "Sure we have some ideas, but at this point they are just that, Ideas!"
Every year bee traps are set up all over Texas, they are trying to track the advance of killer bees. Seems to me that this might also be able to help figure out what is making bees just up and disappear.
Maybe just maybe bees are the straw that will break the camels back. As a child I used to go out to catch butterflies, now days I see maybe three or four butterflies a year, could this disappearance be related to the been disappearance of bees????

Posted by: Carey Feazel | 23 Dec 2010 15:33:46

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