The pesticide industry disputes that a widely used class of insecticides is adding to the reported decline in the world-wide bee population. That's according to a story in TheIntercept.com.
The insecticides, called neonics, are the most widely-used class of pesticides in the world. They were banned in Europe in 2018, after longstanding safety concerns. A 2009 study showed that even the lowest levels of the pesticide hurt non-targeted insects, such as bees and other pollinators, according to The Intercept.
Neonics are still used in the U.S. today, mostly by farmers seeking to protect their crops. The Intercept reports, "[t]he chemical is found in soil samples from coast-to-coast, in waterways and in drinking water."
Studies show that the pesticide impairs bees' ability to navigate and forage for food, weakens their immune systems, and makes them prone to infestation by parasitic mites, says The Intercept. It also suggests that other insects that are not supposed to be impacted are affected, such as butterflies, dragonflies, earthworms, and other insect populations. Even songbirds were reportedly shown to lose weight after they consumed just a few seeds treated with neonics.
Soon after the studies began pointing to concerns with neonics, the leading producers--Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto--implemented a sophisticated effort to discredit the studies, while casting the pesticide companies as champions of the bees' cause, according to The Intercept:
Lobbying documents and emails obtained by The Intercept show a vast strategy by the pesticide industry to influence academics, beekeepers, and regulators, and to divert attention away from the potential harm caused by pesticides. As a result, the global neonic industry generated $4.42 billion in revenue in 2018. In the meantime, the effects are being seen in massive die-offs. Certain insect species are nearing extinction.Lee Fang, The Intercept
A spokesperson for one pesticide manufacturer says honey bee colonies have actually been increasing around the world and that the neonic products went through extensive tests before being approved for use. But The Intercept says the studies cited were all conducted by pesticide manufacturer employees or consultants.
Experts appear to agree that bee health is affected by multiple factors, but they disagree on whether pesticides are a major contributing factor.
Click on the link below to read the full article in The Intercept: