BBC News reports: The UK government should suspend the use of a number of pesticides linked to the deaths of bees, a committee of MPs has said.
Members of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee are calling for a moratorium on the use of sprays containing neonicotinoids.
Britain has refused to back an EU ban on these chemicals saying their impact on bees is unclear.
But MPs say this is an “extraordinarily complacent” approach.
Wild species such as honey bees are said by researchers to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world’s crop production.
In their report, MPs say that two-thirds of these species have suffered population declines in the UK.
They argue that a “growing body of peer-reviewed research” points the finger at a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. [Continue reading…]
On March 28, Agri-View reported: Last week, a year after groups formally petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), four beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the agency for its failure to protect pollinators from pesticides. The coalition, represented by attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), seeks suspension of the registrations of insecticides that have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The suit challenges EPA’s ongoing handling of the pesticides as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies.
“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production. It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.”
On March 29, The Guardian reported: Widely used pesticides have been found in new research to block a part of the brain that bees use for learning, rendering some of them unable to perform the essential task of associating scents with food. Bees exposed to two kinds of pesticide were slower to learn or completely forgot links between floral scents and nectar.
These effects could make it harder for bees to forage among flowers for food, thereby threatening their survival and reducing the pollination of crops and wild plants.
The findings add to existing research that neonicotinoid pesticides are contributing to the decline in bee populations.
It has also been revealed that a separate government field study on the impact of the pesticides on bees was seriously compromised by contamination because the chemicals are so widespread in the environment.
The government put the field study at the heart of the UK’s resistance to a Europe-wide ban on the controversial pesticides earlier this month. The UK was one of nine out of 27 member states that opposed suspending some uses of the insecticides across the EU, after environment secretary Owen Paterson said, “I have asked the EC to wait for the results of our field trials, rather than rushing to a decision”. On Wednesday, his department said more field research was needed.
The new findings on the effect of pesticides on bee brains showed that within 20 minutes of exposure to neonicotinoids the neurons in the major learning centre of the brain stopped firing. Christopher Connolly at the University of Dundee, who led the peer-reviewed work published in the online journal Nature Communications, said it was the first to show the pesticides had a direct impact on pollinator brain physiology.