As reported recently by the U.K.'s Guardian, a new study published in the journal Nature
is the latest in a long line of recent studies to show that common crop
chemicals are destroying bee populations worldwide, which will also
eventually destroy much of the world's food supply if left unaddressed.
And even though at least two-thirds of the world's bumblebee population
is now likely dying off as a result of combined pesticide exposures,
regulatory bodies in the U.K., the U.S., and elsewhere continue to deny
that these harmful chemicals need to be banned.
A much greater
threat than so-called global "climate change," the decline in bee
populations due to pesticide and herbicide exposure is one of the most
serious environmental threats in the world today. Without bees, food
crops that rely on these important insects for pollination will wither
and die, causing widespread food shortages. For this reason, ecology
experts are urging government authorities to rediscover their
consciences by standing up against this chemical-induced insect
genocide, which has the very real potential to eventually unleash human
One of the ways in which they are accomplishing this is by drawing attention to studies like the recent Nature
study, which clearly illustrates the fact that bees are severely
threatened by combined exposures to multiple pesticide chemicals. Since
bees encounter potentially hundreds of pesticide chemicals in real-world
conditions, studying such exposures in a laboratory setting was the
goal of the new research.
"Work in my lab is building on previous work looking at neonicotinoids, the systemic pesticides that are used extensively in agriculture at the moment," said Nigel Raine of Royal Holloway, University of London,
author of the study, in a recent video report. "What we're doing is
we're looking at the effects of multiple pesticides, not just the
neonicotinoids but also pyrethroids, which is the sort of situation that
bees are faced with in the field. They visit multiple crop species which may have different pesticides applied to them."
Most bumblebees die after being exposed to both pesticidesAfter closely monitoring bumblebees exposed to low levels of two different pesticide chemicals for four weeks, Raine and his colleague Richard Gill observed that individual bee performance suffered considerably. Combined exposure to both neonicotinoids and imidacloprid, two common pesticide chemicals, caused worker bees to perform at levels far lower than other bees. And it is precisely the cumulative effect of exposure to both chemicals, which many previous studies involving bees have failed to address, that is the most striking.
Another interesting discovery was the fact that two-thirds of the bees exposed to both chemicals ended up dying, compared to just one-third of those not exposed to both chemicals. This further illustrates the fact that previous studies analyzing the effects of only one pesticide chemical, and for just a few days rather than several weeks, ignore the actual, real-life exposures to multiple pesticide chemicals that many bees throughout the world face.
Many industry-funded studies, after all, which have been used by government regulators to approve these dangerous chemicals in the first place, erroneously conclude that certain pesticide chemicals are safe simply because they did not necessarily elicit immediate harm during the few days in which their effects were studied. Pesticide harm often takes weeks to be observed, which makes Raine's study far more accurate in its assessment of long-term pesticide damage in bees.