Following the publication of several studies that show neonicotinoid pesticides have a negative impact on dwindling honey bee populations, France has announced it plans to ban Cruiser OSR, an insecticide produced by Sygenta. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll has also officially asked the EU Commission to re-evaluate its regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides to increase protection for bees.
Neonicotinoids are systemic chemicals often applied to seeds. After application they spread through the plant and are found in the plant’s pollen and nectar where bees and other pollinating species are exposed. Research has shown that the active ingredient in Cruiser OSR attacks bees’ central nervous systems, causing them to lose their normally excellent sense of direction. In one study, bees exposed to the pesticide were two to three times more likely not to return from foraging trips, allowing researchers to hypothesize that the pesticide impairs the bee’s ability to navigate its surroundings successfully.
It’s thought that given the impact of this chemical on the bee’s ability to make it home, it might be an explanation for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that has been devastating bee populations all over the world.
In a US study, bees from 16 outdoor hives were fed tiny doses of neonicotinoid pesticide-laced high-fructose corn syrup, while four hives in the same field were left untreated. After around six months over 90 percent (15 out of 16) of the hives fed with the pesticidal corn syrup had collapsed, while the four control hives not exposed to pesticides remained healthy.
France has said it will give Sygenta two weeks to prove the pesticide is not linked CCD.
Of course, Sygenta denies that their pesticides have anything to do with widespread CCD. ”All Syngenta’s crop protection products are thoroughly tested to ensure that there are no unwanted effects on beneficial insects such as bees or excessive residues in food or risks to human health,” states the company’s website.
Image via Thinkstock