Study: Neurotoxic Pesticides Causing Catastrophic Decline of Bees, Butterflies, and Other Species

250px-Charaxes_brutus_natalensis220px-Apis_mellifera_TanzaniaThere is new research showing that neurotoxic pesticides are not just responsible for the catastrophic decline in the world’s bee collapse but are also devastating the world’s population of butterflies, worms, fish and birds. The four-year assessment was carried out by The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which advises the International Union for Conservation of Nature has found that neonics are “imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem.” It is simply beyond belief that these pesticides have caused such worldwide damage but, due to the powerful pesticide and agribusiness lobby, there has been no serious regulation to curtail the use of these products.

As we have previously discussed, the loss of the honey bees has been not just devastating for the ecosystem but also many businesses that use honey as a sweetener. Yet, many large agribusiness operations love the neonics which are very effective against pest and increases crop yield but they also impair smell and memory in some species, curb procreation, reduce foraging, cause flight difficulties and increase disease susceptibility in other species. They then leach into the soil and have entered our water system.

Like climate change, politicians have continued to question the science and delay any action at the behest of this powerful business interests. The result is a building disaster. Clearly there was a long debate over the cause for the bee die-off but that question appears to have been answered conclusively. The question is whether this and other studies will trigger action before further damage is done to our environment. The only hope is that there are actually businesses who are losing money on the loss of honey bees — a rather sad statement about our commitment to the environment.

Source: Phys.Org

69 thoughts on “Study: Neurotoxic Pesticides Causing Catastrophic Decline of Bees, Butterflies, and Other Species”

  1. That was supposed to be “sentinel” not “sentient” in my post!

  2. RTC, the half life of glyphosate is 21 years. You are right about it binding in the soil, to the extent that it makes magnesium unavailable to the plant, explaining why as many as 90 percent the US population is now magnesium deficient. Magnesium is required to regulate several hundred different processes in the body. Source: Dr Carolyn Dean MD ND drcarolyndean.com

    As for studies, do you have one that proves glyphosate is not present in any honey?

    World’s Number 1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk
    Posted on Apr 6 2014
    http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/04/06/worlds-number-1-herbicide-discovered-u-s-mothers-breast-milk/

  3. Gosh darn it! Another extremely civil post got stuck in the filter, this one to Jill. That things as sticky as honey this morning.

  4. Jill: “reality based solutions that could make even Monsanto rich if they wanted to switch over to organic farming methods.”

    I have to disagree with you. Because of the patents Monsanto has in place, there is no form of organic farming that can equal the profits they rake in using GMO technology and herbicide use, and they’ve gone to the S. Ct. on several occasions in an effort to enforce their dominance over agriculture.

    Bear in mind, I despise Monsanto with a passion you could surely appreciate. Their unspoken corporate mission is to enslave the world by controlling our food production.

    Monsanto isn’t the villain as far as CCD is concerned; it produces herbicides, not insecticides as far as I know, and again, as far as I know, none of them are neonitonoids.

    The two companies that deserve blame are Bayer and Ortho, both of which want to sell insecticides to the general, unlicensed public like aspirin.

    It’s time to enact a world-wide ban on neonictonoids. We’ve shown the ability to act in the past, for insatance when DDT was shown to affect raptors by working it’s way up the food chain. We must act to save the pollinators if we’re going to protect our food supply.

  5. Samantha: There’s no glyphosate in your honey. I go through glyphosate like you go through printer ink, assuming you go through a lot of printer ink. Handled properly, it’s one of the safest and most effective herbicides available. (Emphasis on handled properly.)

    Glyphosate binds tightly with soil particles, so it can’t translocate within the soil and reach the watershed; other herbicides, like 2,4,D and Garlon can. Once in contact with the soil, it breaks down relatively quickly; 47 days compared to a year or more for other hebicides.

    Glyphosate also breaks down fairly rapidly under UV exposure, usually within 24 – 48 hours, so anyhting left on the plant material becomes inert.

    Because glyphosate is non-selective, it really isn’t applied to agricultural crops unless they’ve been genetically engineered for resistance, like corn and alfalfa, which are wind pollinated. Soybeans are a concern, but so far I’m not aware of any studies confirming the presence of glyphosate in honey.

  6. Darren: Corporate money in politics is one reason why I’ve never been able to take the Tea Party seriously. Until they start demanding the elimination or severe curtailment of campaign contributions, they’re not for real.

  7. Oh no! My post to Karen got caught in the drain. It’s always the long and civil posts that get caught.

  8. Karen: I agree about the importance of eating organic. I’ve cut back on the amount of apples and apple products I consume because of the amount of pesticides used to grow them; there’s no washing them off, as you say. I am skeptical that there is such a thing as an organic apple; every apple tree being a clone, they are extremely susceptible to pests and disease.

    The example of apples brings up the point that agriculture requires the use of pesticides if it’s going to be practiced on a scale large enough to feed the growing population. The key is to use them in a wise and responsible manner. Too often farming operations indiscriminately carpet bomb crops too many times throoughout the growing season. By following Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, farmers are able to reduce the amount of pesticides they use, and be more selective when timing their application. If you know that a certain pest can be treated at an earlier stage before crops are ready for pollination, it’s more efficient to treat judiciously than season long blanket applications. Big Agriculture is guilty of thinking if a little of something is good, then a lot of it is even better, overlooking the unintended consequences. Not only are they killing off a vital component of our food production, but they’ve created super resistance in bugs and viruses that are becoming more expensive to manage.

    Timing has been a big part of the problem for bees, when keepers would release them onto fields that had recently been treated. I think both farmers and keepers are becoming more cognizant of the hazards posed to bees and pay more attention to when and when not to use certain pesticides. It wasn’t too long ago, that bee handlers were arriving at fields that had been freshly treated due to some ignorant corporate scheduling. It’s now become important to raise awareness among the general public who are able to obtain and use pesticides without the training tthat should accompany them. That goes for homeowners who hire services to apply pesticides to landscaping.

  9. “Just another example of our environment being ravaged because too many politicians can be bought and sold by the highest corporate bidder.”

    That’s right, Darren. It would be so much better if we just had tenured civil servants being bought and sold by the highest corporate bidder!

  10. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-24/what-to-expect-when-your-planet-is-expecting-risky-business-in-climate.html ““It’s going to get a lot hotter in the United States over the next 100 years, and worse going forward,” said Alfred Sommer, Dean Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health, who spoke in New York today at a presentation of the project’s findings. “Montana summers will soon be the same as New Mexico today.” “

  11. Just another example of our environment being ravaged because too many politicians can be bought and sold by the highest corporate bidder.

  12. RTC:

    People need to vote with their dollars and stop buying these pesticides. A neonicotinoid is the most widely used pesticide in the world, and this class of insecticide is often used to treat seeds.

    One of my relatives is a scientist who, among other things, researched the impact of pesticides banned in the US that American companies used on farms in other countries. It is, or was, legal to import the crops sprayed with these substances, but not legal to spray it here. Indigenous workers were having massive increases in cancers and birth defects. He was able to discover a way to grow the crop without this pesticide. There are some pretty serious toxins out there that get sprayed on our food. And just a blast of water won’t wash it off. Next ten pesticides get incorporated into the plant’s tissues. There is no washing it off.

    If you read the labels on some of this stuff, you wouldn’t eat anything sprayed with it. I buy organic when I can. It’s expensive, but the price does seem to be coming down a bit.

    OK, off my soap box now . . .

  13. In Japan, they send workers out into orchards to hand-pollinate apple blossoms. I’ve never bought an apple in Japan, but I have to think that sort of intensive labor adds considerably to the cost. If we lose our pollinators, food in general is going to cost a whole lot more and many fruits and vegetables will become unknown to the vast majority of the world.

    Many of these products containing neonicotinoids are marketed for the floriculture industry and home and garden users by companies like Bayer and Ortho; if anybody has any pesticides containing neonicotinoids in their garage, they should seriously consider disposing of them rather than using them.

    Karen makes an excellent point about native plants. There is a movement in horticultural and ecological restoration right now to increase the amount of milkweed in the landscape to help monarchs. Studies show that monarch populations are down by about 50%.

    Native plants have not only developed natural defenses to insect but they support many species that predate on insect pests. Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy makes a great case for using more natives in the lansdcape.

    One of the problems associated with the bee pollinator diet is that, thanks to huge subsidies, increasing amounts of ag land are being planted to corn, a useless crop to bees.

  14. Professor Turley: Thank you very much for this post. It is a very important issue for anyone who eats food.

  15. Saucy, We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Hell, I made one a few years ago.

  16. oldfox – sentient organisms, especially frogs and some insects, are very sensitive to environmental toxins. They act as “the canary in the coal mine.”

    Bees have multiple exposures to toxins in the environment. But they have discovered toxins from pesticides and herbicides in the bees and in their honey.

    And here is a big problem for bee keepers. They fly. So even if they are kept on an organic farm, they can still fly next door and get a snoot of pesticide from a conventional farm, or homeowner. Plus, moving bees from farm to farm does stress the bees and allow for the spread of pathogens and contagion. In addition, conventional bee keepers use husbandry techniques which increase the size of their bees, which creates a weaker insect. Although there are a multitude of contributing factors for CCD, from what I have read, it does appear that exposure to environmental toxins, such as in pesticides, weakens the bees’ immune system, and are a major contributor.

    Organic beekeepers have not been affected as severely with Colony Collapse Disorder, while conventional beekeepers have reported annual losses of up to 70%.

    http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Bee-Colony-Collapse_vq1851.htm

  17. Agribusiness does not care and may encourage apples, almonds, blueberries, cherries, avocados, cucumbers, onions, grapefruit, oranges, and pumpkins to disappear,they have invested in the flavoring and fragrance laborotories to make fake flavors and scents. Cheaper and more profitable,it already is underway.

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