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The EPA is reviewing the use of neonicotinoids and proposing bans on spraying them in fields where bees have been brought in to pollinate a crop.
By: Heather Williams of Robins Cloud LLP
Pesticides. Some say a necessary evil. They help protect crops and make the cost of farming more profitable by reducing loss. But what are the long-term effects? A recent Swiss study examined the impact of a particular pesticide, neonicotinoid, on bees and the presence of this pesticide in the honey we eat. What does this mean for the pollinators responsible for maintaining our ecosystems and food sources? What does this mean for us, the consumers of the honey they produce? The effects are both widespread and long-term.
The pesticide neonicotinoid, first introduced in the mid 1990’s, is used globally. Since introduction, it is the fastest growing and used class of insecticides in the United States. According to publicly available data as of 2011, about 3.5 million pounds of this class of pesticide is applied to nearly 127 million acres of agricultural crops. While widely used, recent studies have indicated the negative impact the chemical has on the nervous system of bees. In recent years the efforts to reduce the use of these pesticides, though the damage has already been done.
Neonicotinoid is a common type of insecticide. While it affects harmful insects that decimate crops, it also affects the beneficial pollinators responsible for the growth of crops, plants, and ecosystems. This chemical not only impairs bee brain function but slows the growth of bee colonies. While Bayer AG and other manufacturers reject the correlation of the increased use in this particular class of pesticide and an alarming 90% decline in pollinator population, beekeepers indicated that 13 of colonies in the second quarter of this year were stressed by pesticides.
For expanded coverage, read Robins Cloud's full update on The Unlisted Ingredient in Your Honey: The Impact of Pesticides in Bees and Humans
For insights into food safety, read Robins Cloud's blog Unsafe Foods.