Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bee Colony Collapse and Dangerous Pesticides Approved by the EPA

Below find two stories about a type of pesticide now known to cause harm to bees. 

The first story was published recently in the wake of scientific research clearly linking the pesticide at issue with health effects for mammals and bees.

The second story was published in 2010 and concerned a Wikileaks release of an EPA report documenting the EPA knew the pesticide class at issue had risks for bees and other beings.

What is frustrating here is that two years later NOTHING has been done in the US to get this dangerous chemical class off the market. Meanwhile bee colony collapse continues unabated.

Our government is corrupt and will not look out for the common good so long as we are apathetic.

It's Time to Ban Dangerous Neonicotinoid Pesticides By Shelley Stonebrook, Mother Earth News 28 August 12

[excerpted] Germany, France and Italy have banned a class of potent pesticides called "neonicotinoids." This class of pesticides includes imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Evidence linking these neonicotinoid pesticides to the honeybee decline known as colony collapse disorder has been mounting. Now, new research suggests residues could be harmful to humans, yet these poisons are still in widespread use across the United States.

Named for their chemical structure, which is similar to that of nicotine, neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, meaning they're in every part of a plant. Generally, seeds are coated in the pesticide before they're planted, and, as a plant develops, the chemicals move into the leaves, roots, pollen, nectar, and even the food products eventually made from the crop. If insects feed on any part of the plant - even water droplets released by plant leaves - the pesticide, a neurotoxin, kills them. In the case of honeybees, if the amount of pesticide ingested isn't strong enough to kill them, it can still cause impaired communication, disorientation, decreased life span, suppressed immunity and disruption of brood cycles.

Not only are neonicotinoid pesticides systemic, they're also extraordinarily persistent. Research shows these pesticides can persist in the soil for more than a decade! Neonicotinoids are widely used on corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, wheat, ornamentals and more. Some sources note that it's difficult for farmers to find corn seed that hasn't been treated with one of these insecticides. As industrial farmers use these potent pesticides year after year on the same land, it's creating an ever more toxic environment.  

Neonicotinoid pesticides, produced by chemical giant Bayer, should have never been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the most commonly used neonicotinoids, clothianidin, went on the market in 2003 after being granted a "conditional registration" from the EPA. 

This is code for saying the EPA will allow the pesticide's use even though there's not enough evidence to show that it passes safety standards - a practice that, shockingly, occurs for about 70 percent of the active ingredients in pesticides that go through the review process. Leaked memos written by EPA scientists stated that what studies Bayer did submit were poorly run, and the scientists openly admitted that neonicotinoids pose harm to honeybees.  

A new study from Harvard University scientists concludes that neonicotinoids are likely the primary cause of colony collapse disorder. According to lead researcher Chensheng Lu, "It apparently doesn't take much of the pesticide to affect the bees. Our experiment included pesticide amounts below what is normally present in the environment."

Numerous studies have shown that these pesticides are killing bees and many other non-target insects, and research now suggests danger for us, too. A 2004 German study tested samples of fruits and vegetables and found that 12 percent contained neonicotinoid residues. A 2012 Japanese study was the first to show that neonicotinoids affect brain development in mammals. The researchers warn that "detailed investigation of the neonicotinoids is needed to protect the health of human children."

A lot is at stake here. Bayer will lose billions if the EPA does the right thing and bans neonicotinoids. However, bee populations are vital to agriculture and farmers will lose billions if honeybee populations continue to plummet. And then there are our children ...

Beekeepers have teamed with the Pesticide Action Network to petition the EPA to suspend registration of neonicotinoids. Please join us in demanding that the EPA finally put a stop to the use of these potent chemicals in the United States. Go to
Beekeepers Ask EPA to Remove Pesticide Linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, Citing Leaked Agency Memo to learn more about the issues surrounding neonicotinoid pesticides. It's time for the government to stand up and protect us, not the chemical companies.

 Majia here: Until the Harvard study mentioned above, the mainstream media was for the most part denying that pesticides were causing bee colony collapse. 

In 2010 Wikileaks revealed that the EPA had allowed a Bayer pesticide known as dangerous for bees. 

Here is an excerpt from the story found at fast.company.com: 

Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees BY Ariel Schwartz Fri Dec 10, 2010http://www.fastcompany.com/1708896/wiki-bee-leaks-epa-document-reveals-agency-knowingly-allowed-use-of-bee-toxic-pesticide

[Excerpted] "Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer's request to approve use of the pesticide on cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, 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.
The entire 101-page memo is damning (and worth a read).

Majia here: Here is the link to the EPA document:


Below you will see some of my previous posts about the issue:

April 2012: Controversy Deepens Over Pesticides and Bee Collapse http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/wired-controversy-deepens-over.html

2010 Bias in Bee Study http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/bias-in-bee-study.html 

2010 http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/epa-allows-bee-massacre.html

2012 http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/chemical-warfare-bees-and-babies-are.html

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