New Research Links Pesticides to Decline in Bee Populations

Mar 30, 2012


New research published recently shows a stong causal link between the use of a new generation of nerve-agent pesticides and the decline in global bee populations.

The controversial insecticides, containing neonicotinoids, are known as 'systemic' pesticides which mean they do not just sit on the surface of the plant, but are taken up into every part of it, including the pollen and the nectar; and so even if bees are not the target species, they ingest the chemicals through the pollen and nectar when they are foraging.

One of the recent studies, led by Professor David Goulson at Stirling University, showed that bumble bees exposed to the imidacloprid, a common neonicotinoid insecticide, produced 85% less queens than a control colony. Obviously this would have disastrous effects on the ability of the bee population to maintain healthy numbers.

Neonicotinoids are now used on over 30% of British cropland and are even more widespread in the US, where Colony Collapse Disorder is happening on a huge scale.

"These new studies put beyond all reasonable doubt the capacity for neonicotinoids to cause environmental destruction," said Matt Shardlow, director of Buglife, the invertebrate conservation trust. "Our Government must take the precautionary step of banning their use." The Government has twice been formally asked to suspend neonicotinoids; on both occasions the requests were ignored.

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