Pesticides bee-having badly

May 26, 2008

Image from flickr by autan

Millions of bees have died in Germany due to a family of nasty pesticides. Eight pesticides have been suspended by the German office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety used in the production of rapeseed oil and sweetcorn.

The use of clothianidin caused two thirds of Germanys bee’s to die earlier this month. The German Professional Beekeepers Association said that around 50-60% of Germany’s bees have been lost and that many bee keepers have lost their hives completely due to this dangerous pesticide.

How did the disaster occur?

Clothianidin is produced by Bayer Crop Science which is used in Europe under the name of poncho. The company claims that they failed to use a vital substance that aids the pesticide to stick to the seeds that it is used on. Without the glue like substance the pesticide was able to get into the air and poison the bees.

The chemical works by working its way through the plant which in return attacks the nervous system of an insect that comes into contact with the plant. It is a highly toxic chemical to honey bee’s which is why it lead to an extremely high number of deaths.

Has this occurred before?

Bayer is one of the worlds leading pesticide manufacturers however has been put to blame for killing honeybee’s before. In 1995, North Dakota in the US lost thousands of honey bee colonies. Bayer was taken to court after oilseed rape was treated with the chemical imidacloprid (Gaucho in French) which lead to the death of the colonies. Subsequently to this there has been a collapse in honeybee colonies.

Bayer’s best seller imidacloprid was also banned in France in 1999 for being used on sunflowers which caused a death of one third of French honeybees. By 2004 the use of imidacloprid was also banned as a treatment for sweetcorn, again seeing multiple deaths of honeybees.

Even though imidacloprid has been found to be extremely dangerous towards the lives of honeybees Bayer still remains to claim that it is safe. Utz Klages, a Bayer spokeman said “extensive internal and international scientific studies have confirmed that Gaucho does not present a hazard to bees”.

Philipp Mimkes, a spokesman for the German-based Coalition Against Bayer Dangers strongly disagrees with Klages claim saying that “We have been pointing out the risks of neonicotinoids for almost 10 years now. This proves without a doubt that the chemicals can come into contact with bees and kill them. These pesticides shouldn’t be on the market.”

 

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