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bees vs. pesticides article from UK Gardian

Posted by thisbud4u San Diego (My Page) on
Mon, May 26, 08 at 19:41

Hello beekeepers,
The following is an article from the British paper The Guardian about the problems that some pesticides can cause for bees.
Here's the article:

Pesticides: Germany bans chemicals linked to honeybee devastation

* Alison Benjamin
* Friday May 23 2008
* Article history

Germany has banned a family of pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has suspended the registration for eight pesticide seed treatment products used in rapeseed oil and sweetcorn.

The move follows reports from German beekeepers in the Baden-Wrttemberg region that two thirds of their bees died earlier this month following the application of a pesticide called clothianidin.

"It's a real bee emergency," said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association. "50-60% of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."

Tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin. The chemical, produced by Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of the German chemical giant Bayer, is sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho. It was applied to the seeds of sweetcorn planted along the Rhine this spring. The seeds are treated in advance of being planted or are sprayed while in the field.

The company says an application error by the seed company which failed to use the glue-like substance that sticks the pesticide to the seed, led to the chemical getting into the air.

Bayer spokesman Dr Julian Little told the BBC's Farming Today that misapplication is highly unusual. "It is an extremely rare event and has not been seen anywhere else in Europe," he said.

Clothianidin, like the other neonicotinoid pesticides that have been temporarily suspended in Germany, is a systemic chemical that works its way through a plant and attacks the nervous system of any insect it comes into contact with. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency it is "highly toxic" to honeybees.

This is not the first time that Bayer, one of the world's leading pesticide manufacturers with sales of 5.8bn (4.6bn) in 2007, has been blamed for killing honeybees.

In the United States, a group of beekeepers from North Dakota is taking the company to court after losing thousands of honeybee colonies in 1995, during a period when oilseed rape in the area was treated with imidacloprid. A third of honeybees were killed by what has since been dubbed colony collapse disorder.

Bayer's best selling pesticide, imidacloprid, sold under the name Gaucho in France, has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers in that country since 1999, after a third of French honeybees died following its widespread use. Five years later it was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment in France. A few months ago, the company's application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.

Bayer has always maintained that imidacloprid is safe for bees if correctly applied. "Extensive internal and international scientific studies have confirmed that Gaucho does not present a hazard to bees," said Utz Klages, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience.

Last year, Germany's Green MEP, Hiltrud Breyer, tabled an emergency motion calling for this family of pesticides to be banned across Europe while their role in killing honeybees were thoroughly investigated. Her action follows calls for a ban from beekeeping associations and environmental organisations across Europe.

Philipp Mimkes, spokesman for the German-based Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, said: "We have been pointing out the risks of neonicotinoids for almost 10 years now. This proves without a doubt that the chemicals can come into contact with bees and kill them. These pesticides shouldn't be on the market."

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: bees vs. pesticides article from UK Gardian

Thisbud, Is there much in the way of international communication going on that you know of? I attended a bee conference in the spring where one of the guest speakers said studies found no direct link between neonicitoids and ccd. They were aware of move to ban them in Europe

RE: bees vs. pesticides article from UK Gardian

Tony, the neonicotinoid class of pesticides are systemic insecticides, so it would be extremely unlikely if they did NOT kill honeybees. In fact, it would be pretty much impossible for them not to do so. The question is, how much of this stuff is being sprayed, and how long does it survive in the environment? Well, the answer to the first part is that tons (literally) of the stuff is being sprayed because it is highly effective, and the answer to the second part is that it is most likely it breaks down very slowly because it is a systemic.

I have heard similar reports that neoticotinoids aren't responsible for CCD. In fact, the professor I spoke to from UC Davis reported in a lecture that the French banned this class of pesticide, and the loss of bees continued. Unfortunately, this does NOT mean that these pesticides are harmless. It just means that there are other factors ALSO at work which are contributing to CCD, and now we know that the IAPV (Israeli Acute Paralytic Virus) is the main culprit, or one of the main culprits.

The best we can figure right now is that honeybees are under attack from multiple sources, and the only way to effectively bring back the honeybees is to address as many of the factors as we can. One of the observations made about bees that were affected by CCD, ones that actually made it back to their hives, was that they were absolutely loaded with every conceivable pathogen---tracheal mites, varroa mites, several types of RNA viruses, including IAPV, and even bacterial pathogens as well. Ergo, the bees were highly stressed and their immune systems were severely weakened. This suggests multiple pathogenic agents rather than a single source.

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