DDT2 George Monbiot on Neonicatinoid poisons

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George Monbiot has a very good article on Neonicatinoid poisoning being the nu DDT, our environment, government support support for such poisoning using discredited, flawed studies, etc. Strange that I missed it first time.

It’s the new DDT: a class of poisons licensed for widespread use before they had been properly tested, which are now ripping the natural world apart. And it’s another demonstration of the old truth that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.

It is only now, when neonicotinoids are already the world’s most widely deployed insecticides, that we are beginning to understand how extensive their impacts are. Just as the manufacturers did for DDT, the corporations which make these toxins claimed that they were harmless to species other than the pests they targeted. Just as they did for DDT, they have threatened people who have raised concerns, published misleading claims and done all they can to bamboozle the public. And, as if to ensure that the story sticks to the old script, some governments have collaborated in this effort. Among the most culpable is the government of the United Kingdom.

As Professor Dave Goulson shows in his review of the impacts of these pesticides, we still know almost nothing about how most lifeforms are affected. But as the evidence has begun to accumulate, scientists have started discovering impacts across a vast range of wildlife.

Slightly later edit: The article is well worth reading and I should have quoted this section. (and it should be Neonicotinoid in the title.)

Most people who read this newspaper will be aware by now of the evidence fingering neonicotinoids as a major cause of the decline of bees and other pollinators. These pesticides can be applied to the seeds of crops, and they remain in the plant as it grows, killing the insects which eat it. The quantities required to destroy insect life are astonishingly small: by volume these poisons are 10,000 times as powerful as DDT. When honeybees are exposed to just 5 nanogrammes of neonicotinoids, half of them will die. As bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and other pollinators feed from the flowers of treated crops, they are, it seems, able to absorb enough of the pesticide to compromise their survival.

Continue ReadingDDT2 George Monbiot on Neonicatinoid poisons

UK & bee-killing pesticides

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My assessment of the current state of UK bees follows

MPs call for precautionary ban on pesticides linked to bee decline

Pressure on the government to impose a “precautionary moratorium” on three controversial pesticides linked to the decline of bee populations will crank up a notch today, with the publication of a new report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) criticising ministers for their “extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees”.

The report calls on the government to impose a ban on imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX, suspending their use on flowering crops attractive to pollinators. It also argues that with several of the UK’s largest garden retailers, including B&Q and Homebase, having voluntarily withdrawn neonicotinoids their shelves the government should impose a full ban on the sale of neonicotinoids for public domestic use, in order to create an “urban safe haven for pollinators”.

The report notes that France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia have already imposed partial bans on some neonicotinoids and criticises the government for opposing European Commission proposals for a full moratorium on imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX on all crops attractive to bees.

“Defra seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy,” said EAC chair Joan Walley in a statement. “If farmers had to pollinate fruit and vegetables without the help of insects it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and we would all be stung by rising food prices. Defra Ministers have refused to back EU efforts to protect pollinators and can’t even come up with a convincing plan to encourage bee-friendly farming in the UK.”

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has argued that the benefits of any ban would outweigh the costs, [a mistake in editing?] insisting there is not yet sufficient evidence to impose restrictions on pesticides that are widely used across the agricultural industry.

But Walley confirmed that the EAC had reached an entirely different conclusion. “We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action, so we are calling for a moratorium on pesticides linked to bee decline to be introduced by 1 January next year,” she said. “This allows farmers to use treated seeds that have already been purchased for this growing season and gives Defra time to implement EU legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides.”

The report also criticises the behaviour of some chemicals companies, which have argued that there is not sufficient evidence of a link between the pesticides and declines in bee populations to justify a ban, but have failed to disclose full results from their research into the impact of the chemicals.

“Pesticide companies often try to pick holes in studies linking their products to bee decline, but when pushed to publish their own research and safety studies they hide behind claims of commercial sensitivity,” said Walley. “The industry must open itself to greater academic scrutiny if it wants to justify its continued opposition to the precautionary protection of pollinators.”

‘Flawed research’ leads to bee call

SCOTTISH ministers could today call on the UK government to consider a ban on pesticides linked to the deaths of billions of bees worldwide after a key environment watchdog branded official research into the issue “fundamentally flawed”.

The Scottish Government, which up until now has backed Westminster in opposing a ban on neonicotinoids, said it was now “urgently” reviewing the evidence in the light of the criticism from the UK parliament’s cross-party environmental audit committee.

Committee chair MP Joan Walley said members supported calls from the European Commission for a moratorium on using the controversial insecticides.

The UK government had commissioned a field study on bumblebees which failed to provide conclusive proof there was a major impact on the insects from the pesticides.

But the committee report concludes research was “fundamentally flawed” and should not be used as a reason for not taking action.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead last night said: “We will be reviewing this as a matter of urgency.

“If in light of this new advice the case for the EU’s precautionary measures is strong, then I would want the UK government to consider supporting this 

Current State of UK bees

So much rain last year prevented UK bees from building good stores of honey in preparation for winter.

The mild winter was hard on bees keeping them active and consuming their honey stores. A harder winter would have made less demands on stores.

The extended very cold spell this year is the third serious blow to bees. Even with sufficient stores, there was no pollen necessary to rear bees available.

Beekeepers are only starting to realise the damage sustained by bees over the winter as it now becomes warm enough for bees to start flying and to inspect hives. I expect bee colonies to have been decimated with survival over this winter in the region of 25 – 50%.

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Pesticides kill bees

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Neonicotinoid pesticides are shown to poison bees. While this study was concerned with bumblebees it is likely that the findings are also relevant to honeybees and similar insects.

The point about pesticides is that they are poisons. Neonicotinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that affect the whole plant including nectar and pollen.

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Insecticide blamed for bee deaths by Stirling University study

Use of a specific group of insecticides is having a serious impact on bumblebee populations, according to a team of Scottish scientists.

The Stirling University researchers found exposure even to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides had a serious impact on the health of bumblebees.

Bee populations have fallen sharply, and scientists say urgent action is needed to reverse the decline.

Of particular concern is an 85% drop in the number of queens.

That means 85% fewer nests in the following year.

The research found bumblebee colony growth slowed after exposure to the chemicals.

This may partly be to blame for colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon which has hit large numbers of hives in Europe and North America in recent years.

Professor Dave Goulson, who led the Stirling research, said: “Some bumblebee species have declined hugely. For example in North America, several bumblebee species which used to be common have more or less disappeared from the entire continent. In the UK, three species have gone extinct.

“Bumblebees pollinate many of our crops and wild flowers. The use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops clearly poses a threat to their health, and urgently needs to be re-evaluated.”

Continue ReadingPesticides kill bees

Sub-lethal effects of pesticides on honeybees

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I am uncertain about the claim to be the first research “to demonstrate the sub-lethal effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees” – I believe that there may be a growing body of research that demonstrates this.

Research expands understanding of bee health

Recently published research is the first to demonstrate the sub-lethal effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees, which play a critical role in the production of one third of the food that human’s consume.

The pesticides involved in Wu’s study include those used by beekeepers, growers and homeowners. They include miticides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. The accumulation occurs because beekeepers reuse combs to save on the expense of replacement.

Some of the consequences to honey bees that Wu found were delayed larval development and a shortened adult lifespan, which can result indirectly in premature shifts in hive roles and foraging activity.

Shortened bee lifespans dramatically change the dynamic of a hive. According to Sheppard, foragers are the bees that provide pollination and bring food back to a hive.

“A bee’s life span as a forager is on average only the last eight days of its life,” he said. “This research shows that, if raised with pesticide residues in the brood comb, an individual’s foraging life span is shortened by four days, a 50 percent cut.”

If there are not sufficient foragers, the colony makes up the deficit by using younger bees that are not physiologically ready. The result is a negative cascade through the hive all the way down to the larval bees because individual nurse bees must prematurely move toward foraging behavior and stop feeding larvae, Sheppard said.

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More on bees and Neonicotinoid pesticides

Read more about the article More on bees and Neonicotinoid pesticides
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The Independent has a further article on bees and Neonicatinoid pesticides. I’ve looked for those “two independent studies carried out in the past two years” showing that “bees treated with imidacloprid … are far more susceptible to disease, even at microscopic doses.”Perhaps Mike or Phil could point them out?

In yesterday’s bee post I wrote “These pesticides are systemic meaning that the whole plant is affected. If bees are dying through contaminated nectar, us humans eat the whole fruit or vegetable and are at the very end of the food chain.” I’ve since realised that the normal precautions of washing or peeling fruit and vegetables would be ineffective.

Government asked to investigate new pesticide link to bee decline – Nature, Environment – The Independent

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

The Government is being asked to investigate a possible link between a new generation of pesticides and the decline of honey bees. It is suspected that the chemicals may be impairing the insects’ ability to defend themselves against harmful parasites through grooming.

The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, will have to answer a question in the Commons from the former Home Office minister David Hanson about whether the Government will investigate if the effect of neonicotinoids on the grooming behaviour of bees is similar to its effect on termites.

The pesticides, neonicotinoids, made by the German agribusiness giant Bayer and rapidly spreading in use, are known to be fatal to termites by damaging their ability to groom themselves and thus remove the spores of harmful fungi.

In a leaflet promoting an anti-termite insecticide, Premise 200SC, sold in Asia, the company says it is the direct effect on the insects’ grooming abilities of the neonicotinoid active ingredient, imidacloprid, which eventually kills them. Now bee campaigners in Britain want to know if this mechanism could also be at work on European honey bees and other pollinating insects which are rapidly declining in numbers.

“Grooming protects insects from all kinds of pests and viruses, while helping to maintain general health and functioning,” Ms Williams said yesterday. “A defence for honey bees against the varroa mite [a parasite causing colonies to decline] is to groom the mites away from the body. Do we know for sure that neonicotinoids do not hamper the ability of honey bees to deal with varroa?”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, the invertebrate conservation charity, said: “Scientific studies have shown that neonicotinoids significantly reduce the activity of honey bees, and it is highly likely that this would include a reduction in the amount of grooming that they do.

“Hence there is a clear potential mechanism for these pesticides to damage the first line of defence that insects have against disease. Again it seems clear that insecticides are linked to sickness in bees and impairment to pollination services.”

The possibility fits in with what has already been discovered about the harmful effects of neonicotinoids – in that bees treated with imidacloprid, which is Bayer’s biggest-selling insecticide worth £500m a year in sales to the company – are far more susceptible to disease, even at microscopic doses. This has been shown by two independent studies carried out in the past two years.

In its publicity material for Premise 200SC, Bayer says: “The termites are susceptible to disease caused by micro-organisms or fungi found in soil.

“A principal part of their defence system is their grooming habits, which allow the termites to get rid of the fungal spores before these spores germinate and cause disease or death. Premise 200SC interferes with this natural process by lowering defences to nature’s own weaponry.”

Dr Julian Little, Bayer’s UK spokesman, said: “We do a lot of tests of the effects of insecticides on bees, and impairment of grooming has never shown up.”

Specific tests to see whether or not bees’ grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added.

Exclusive: Bees facing a poisoned spring – Nature, Environment – The Independent

Ban Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Save the Honeybee

Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags | Grist

Top USDA bee researcher also found Bayer pesticide harmful to honeybees | Grist


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


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