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Interesting Information: Study Links Pesticide To Bee Deaths

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Interesting Information:  April 23, 2012

Study Links Pesticide to Bee Deaths

David Abel, in “The Boston Globe,” reported on a recent Harvard Public Health study that made a one-to-one link between bee colony collapse disorder and a chemical in the neonicotinoid family, imidacloprid (April 6, 2012, B1).

Before 2006, Abel notes, “the typical bee colony collapse was between 25 and 30 percent”–a figure which has “doubled since then.”  Imidacloprid was first reviewed by EPA in 2008.

One strategy chemical companies use to prevent chemicals from being banned is to claim a study is faulty, that more study is needed.  Bayer, the German chemical company who sells the most imidacloprid, immediately claimed the study flawed in that too much of the chemical was used in the study.  But, Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said “it took only low levels to cause hive collapse, less than is typically used in crops or in areas where bees forage.”  Most importantly, this study clearly linked bee death and colony collapse to imidacloprid.  In other words, there is no question that there is a one to one link here and that the result is bee death.

Imidacloprid is used increasingly in crops such as corn and soybeans.  In Maine, it’s used on “wild” blueberry barrens.  Bees are exposed to imidacloprid both through nectar from the sprayed plants AND through the high-fructose corn syrup with which they are fed.  Charles Benbook, chief scientist of the Organic Center in Boulder, Colorado, and former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences on Agriculture, warned that what’s happening to bees doesn’t just stop with bees:  “People, especially children, consume a lot of high-fructose corn syrup.  The presence of any pesticides in high fructose corn syrup should be a concern for the general public.”

Neonicotinoids act on an insect’s central nervous system.  What do you think it will do to human nervous systems?  Especially when we are learning more and more each day that very small amounts of these chemicals can do a ton of damage.

The Harvard study showed that after 23 weeks of exposure to low levels of imidacloprid, 15 of the 16 treated hives were dead.  Those exposed to higher levels died first.

EPA officials, after the release of this Harvard study, have moved up in their registration schedule so that they will begin a review of imidacloprid by the end of this year.

Parts of France and Italy banned imidacloprid in 2009, and colony collapse disorder there has been substantially reduced.

Bees are our canaries in the coal mines.

Do not eat corn unless it is clearly organic.  Do not eat soybeans, period.  (I’ll write more on that later.)  In addition, both corn and soybeans are likely GMO’d, which is a whole other set of problems for human health.

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