Bee-Killing Pesticide Found in 75 Percent of Global Honey Samples

There’s nothing sweet at all about the results of a recent study of honey from around the world. In samples from every continent except Antarctica, traces of neonicotinoid pesticides were found in 75 percent of them – even in honey from remote places like Tahiti. Almost half the samples contained at least two different types of pesticides.

The contamination rates were highest in North America, where a shocking 86 percent of the honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid. For Asia, it was 80 percent; for Europe, 70 percent. The rate was lowest in South America (57 percent).

In the study, published this month in the journal Science, researchers from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland tested honey collected by citizen scientists from nearly 200 sites around the world. Their purpose wasn’t to prove that these pesticides can be found in honey, but to quantify their presence on a global scale.

“It’s not a surprise, in a sense, that we find neonicotinoids in honey. Anybody could have guessed that,” said lead author Edward Mitchell, a biologist at the university. “What’s original is using the same protocol. We now have a worldwide map of the situation.”

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, kill insects by attacking their central nervous systems. When these pesticides — which include imidacloprid, acetamiprid and thiamethoxam — were first introduced in the 1990s, their manufacturers insisted they were safe for bees and other large insects, and were deadly only for their intended targets: smaller pests that don’t affect the food chain.

While the use of neonicotinoids has soared in the two decades since then, the population of bees has simultaneously declined. Not surprisingly, studies have found that these pesticides are, in fact, harmful to pollinators. Even a tiny amount can have an adverse effect on bees, damaging their reproduction and immune systems. It also impacts their memory, making it difficult for bees to return to their hives after collecting pollen and nectar.

“Unlike traditional pesticides, neonics are completely absorbed by a plant, becoming part of its pollen, nectar, leaves, and roots—making the entire thing toxic,” according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “And because neonics can stick around in soil and water for years, they are essentially uncontainable and are pervasive throughout the United States.”

As those 200 honey samples prove, neonicotinoids are not just pervasive throughout the U.S., but all around the globe.

Although the relatively small amount of neonicotinoids in honey is considered safe for human consumption, Alexandre Aebi, a researcher at Neuchâtel University, warned, “We must imagine that we ingest this honey daily. It’s therefore important to study the long-term effect of these low doses, as well as the cocktail-effect due to the presence of several substances.”

Earlier this month, the NRDC announced it is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving the use of neonicotinoids without consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ascertain the insecticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species. The failure to do so is in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

If these deadly pesticides aren’t banned, they will continue contributing to the extinction of honey bees and other pollinators, and possibly the human race as well.

“Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security,” said Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, Ph.D., who co-chaired the first global assessment of pollinators, published in February 2016. “Their health is directly linked to our own well-being.”

Europe has already drafted regulations that would ban neonicotinoids. Connecticut and Maryland have passed laws restricting their use, and it’s time for the entire U.S. to ban them. Please sign and share this petition urging the EPA to halt the production of these deadly pesticides.

127 comments

Janet B
Janet B3 days ago

Thanks

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Marigold A
Marigold A4 days ago

But at what concentrations?

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Sophie M
Sophie M13 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Janis K
Janis K17 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Elaine W
Elaine W17 days ago

Noted with alarm and petition signed.

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Jan S
Jan S17 days ago

thank you

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Joan E
Joan E24 days ago

Terrible for the bees, terrible for those who eat the honey, and a disaster for the world food supply.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s24 days ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s24 days ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s24 days ago

Thank you

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