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Study Links Honey Bee Deaths to Corn Insecticide

Study Links Honey Bee Deaths to Corn Insecticide

A new study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal of Environmental Science and Technology creates a stronger link to what many scientists have already expressed concern over; the relationship between insecticides and mass die offs of honey bees.

Since seed coating with neonicotinoid insecticides was introduced in the late 1990s, European beekeepers have reported severe colony losses in the period of corn sowing (spring), according to researchers.

The study, entitled Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds, focused on the technology used to plant the seeds and the use of neonicotinoid insecticides coated on corn seeds, which are commonly used because they’re believed to be less toxic to non-target animals.

Scientists believe the mass die offs may be caused by particles of the insecticide that reach the air when the drilling machines that are used for planting suck the seeds in and expel air, which contains the toxins. Researchers used different seeding methods and insecticide coatings, but all were found to kill bees that flew through the area.

“Experimental results show that the environmental release of particles containing neonicotinoids can produce high exposure levels for bees, with lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers,” according to the study.

France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia have all suspended the use of neonicotinoids, and a recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is calling the loss of honey bees a global crisis that could affect 70 percent of the world’s food supply, yet the EPA continues to allow their use in the U.S.

“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

Related Stories:

Is This EPA Approved Pesticide a Bee Killer?

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Have Military Scientists Discovered the Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Mystery?

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Photo credit: billhinsee

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141 comments

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4:01PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

ALL insecticides SHOULD be BANNED. Not surprising that bees are dying. These chemicals and insecticides are killing other animals and people. And if the bees are gone so are we. ''SIGNED''!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11:24AM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

This is very sad to hear. But it's always the same thing. We always realize the danger of the chemicals being used too late.

9:14PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

This is so horrible. We're really gonna be kicking ourselves as a species if the bees disappear. They really do so much for us.

12:57PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Hi Kim -
Diane has sent you a message:

"Just got down to your comment, and honestly, that's the dumbest thing I've ever read. Have YOU ever planted corn? They don't DRILL, and the seeds only need to be 1/2" below the surface. I've planted corn for many years. It'll sprout and start to grow tall stalks even if just laid on the surface. Again, NO NEED to coat corn seed with insecticide. Whoever wrote this has watched too many "sci fi" movies and those who believe this stuff are probably also thinking "Tremors" was anything but a spoof."

It is not often that I get any credit for the dumbest thing ever said. I was just pointing out that the method of dispersion was included in the article that you commented on. It made me wonder how carefully you had read the article and if pointing out the information might be useful.

I have actually planted corn (in larger than garden sized fields) and the tool we used was called a corn drill. I am not certain how my pointing out the method that was said to be at issue in the article in discussion is so wrong, how does my corn planting experience get introduced? I responded to your statement that bees do not pollinate corn and that they must have left something out. That was the sentence that made the linkage between the pesticide and the bees.

I do not usually use wikipedia but it is fast and this listing does have a cite...

"Drilling is the term used for the mechanized sowing of an agricultural crop. A typical seed d

6:18AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

I've done a bit more research on this topic, and still am a bit unsure of how to react. The studies were done on sites in Europe and the use of such insecticides was banned several years ago. These insecticides are designed to affect boring and chewing insects, such as aphids. I've never seen aphids on corn so why would they feel the need to use it on corn seed? One site said ALL corn seed, even that used by the home owner is so affected. Really? If that's the case, then we are all in deep trouble, but again, unless the insecticide is something the bees are exposed to, they shouldn't BE affected. If you buy seed that is labeled "organic", then it is supposed to be just that.......no pesticides or herbicides used. So, how can ALL seed be covered with these insecticides? If the bees don't get nectar from corn, which they don't, then why would they be affected? The article implies by flying thru fields when the seeds are DRILLED into the ground and air is shot back. Hmmm, I've never seen corn planted by DRILLING. The article has a link which goes directly to a site that shows a machine that distributes seed by CASTING, not drilling. I'd really like more information.

8:00PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

thanks for posting this article-if the majority of Americans don't get involved and educated we will not have an earth worth saving due to all the poisons which are currently sanctioned by law in the name of commerce!

5:53AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

When you think what poisons, parabens etc etc are in our water, the air we breath, the products we buy (even those for babies) i fail to see how the majority of people DO NOT complain!!! It leaves me speechless what people continue to put up with without a complaint. its just left as usual to the 'mad' 'hippy' 'tree hugging' people like me to stand up and complain. I tell you, if i ask the 'does this contain palm oil?' question in my local shop or supermarket and get the following question back...'Why, are you allergic to palm oil madam?' just once more i will scream the place down. WAKE UP WORLD

11:33PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

We simply CANNOT mess with Mother Nature and hope to win, i.e, to force her to do our bidding. She will win. And she will take our bees. Sob.

7:04PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

So many chemicals are used throughout our environment with so few actually being tested for adverse affects on flora and fauna.

"We the People" need to make changes to how and what chemicals are used, we need to make our voices heard that we want less use of them and strict testing on those that will be used.

12:07PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

It's very very sad...

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