[The starry background is to remind us that this spaceship Earth has no emergency exit.]
back last   ecostory 32/2011   next E     home
"Government asked to investigate new pesticide link to bee decline"

This new pesticide is a "Nicotinoid"

It stops insects from cleaning themselves. So they die because of the parasites on their bodies.

The crux of the matter is that this pesticide has been tested on insects that eat from our food crops but not on bees. A child knows a bee is a very useful insect. Is it therefore responsible to market a product that can be harmful to bees? Or is it "madness", as one commentator calls himself?
The bees are already suffering from a syndrom that is killing large numbers of hives.

These are the four gentlemen who are bearing the responsibility at the top of Bayer.

Together the have twelve children, and possibly a number of grandchildren.
Marijn Dekkers is married with three daughters.
Werner Baumann is married with four children.
Wolfgang Plischke is married and has two sons.
Richard Pott is married and has three children.

What do their children expect of their parents' company that promises:
"Science For A Better Life"
Does a "better life" include a disrespect of the precautionary principle, potentially killing an important link in our food chain, the pollinating insects?

Further down we paste some of the comments from the Independents' website. They provide a concise and sharp assessment of Nicotinoids and the question of "Personal Responsibility".

"Government asked to investigate new pesticide link to bee decline"

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor Wednesday, 30 March 2011, Independent.co.uk

The Government is being asked to investigate a possible link between a new generation of pesticides and the decline of honey bees. It is suspected that the chemicals may be impairing the insects' ability to defend themselves against harmful parasites through grooming.

The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, will have to answer a question in the Commons from the former Home Office minister David Hanson about whether the Government will investigate if the effect of neonicotinoids on the grooming behaviour of bees is similar to its effect on termites.

The pesticides, neonicotinoids, made by the German agribusiness giant Bayer and rapidly spreading in use, are known to be fatal to termites by damaging their ability to groom themselves and thus remove the spores of harmful fungi.

In a leaflet promoting an anti-termite insecticide, Premise 200SC, sold in Asia, the company says it is the direct effect on the insects' grooming abilities of the neonicotinoid active ingredient, imidacloprid, which eventually kills them. Now bee campaigners in Britain want to know if this mechanism could also be at work on European honey bees and other pollinating insects which are rapidly declining in numbers.

"Grooming protects insects from all kinds of pests and viruses, while helping to maintain general health and functioning," Ms Williams said yesterday. "A defence for honey bees against the varroa mite [a parasite causing colonies to decline] is to groom the mites away from the body. Do we know for sure that neonicotinoids do not hamper the ability of honey bees to deal with varroa?"

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, the invertebrate conservation charity, said: "Scientific studies have shown that neonicotinoids significantly reduce the activity of honey bees, and it is highly likely that this would include a reduction in the amount of grooming that they do.

"Hence there is a clear potential mechanism for these pesticides to damage the first line of defence that insects have against disease. Again it seems clear that insecticides are linked to sickness in bees and impairment to pollination services."

The possibility fits in with what has already been discovered about the harmful effects of neonicotinoids in that bees treated with imidacloprid, which is Bayer's biggest-selling insecticide worth 500m a year in sales to the company are far more susceptible to disease, even at microscopic doses. This has been shown by two independent studies carried out in the past two years.

"Dr Julian Little is chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council - an umbrella group for the agricultural biotechnology industry in the UK. It promotes the role of biotechnology in sustainable agriculture and encourages the sharing of research. Julian is also UK communications and government affairs manager for Bayer CropScience."
In its publicity material for Premise 200SC, Bayer says: "The termites are susceptible to disease caused by micro-organisms or fungi found in soil.

"A principal part of their defence system is their grooming habits, which allow the termites to get rid of the fungal spores before these spores germinate and cause disease or death. Premise 200SC interferes with this natural process by lowering defences to nature's own weaponry."

Dr Julian Little, Bayer's UK spokesman, said: "We do a lot of tests of the effects of insecticides on bees, and impairment of grooming has never shown up."

Specific tests to see whether or not bees' grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added.


Comments, copied from The Independent website on 30 March 2011:

Slicer 46 minutes ago

These chemical companies are poisoning all of us. Many scientists are brought and paid for by chemical manufacturers to produce studies that reveal no ill effects on humans/environment. It's a scandal of our times that massive amounts of chemicals are allowed to be produced that causes any number of problems with the health and well being of the inhabitants of this planet. Politicians are too emboldened to big business to ban any of them. Caroline Spelman is a stooge for the biotech companies so I doubt very much she will rock the boat on this one. It would harm her prospects of sitting on the boards of biotech companies when she leaves her job as a politician.

helpthebees 4 hours ago

The specific question David Hanson has tabled is: "what assessment has she (Spelman) made of the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on crucial defensive insect behaviours and if she will make a statement" v With respect to grooming, in actual fact, it seems Bayer have revealed the answer! Our regulatory bodies obviously do not consider the impairment of crucial insect grooming behaviours - otherwise Bayer would have been required to supply it. But the report states:

"Specific tests to see whether or not bees' grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added."

In other words, if Spelman replies to David Hanson's questions that they do indeed consider the impact of pesticides on crucial insect behaviours such as grooming - then she is not telling the truth (unless Defra/CRD decided to let Bayer off the hook from needing to supply such data). Yet Defra cannot deny that this issue is important - Bayer draw attention to this in their own literature - and describe how impairment of grooming results in the demise of termites. 1 person liked this.

uanime5 52 minutes ago in reply to helpthebees

Can you please provide the legal requirement that requires Bayer to test whether or not bees' grooming ability are impaired by neonicotinoids? If there are no such requirements then Bayer have done nothing wrong and it's is Defra's fault for not requiring these tests.

helpthebees 39 minutes ago in reply to uanime5

That is exactly my point. The regulatory system is deficient, and Spelman will have to admit this, because Bayer have not been required to provide data on effects on behaviours crucial to insect health and survival, such as grooming.

WoollyMindedLiberal 4 hours ago

Are things so quiet that this old favourite space filler had to be dragged out from the archives and reprinted?

emuchaser 4 hours ago

is this the same pesticide that the British bee-keepers association received thousands in sponsorship money from,so the company could put a bee friendly sticker on the label ? 1 person liked this.

Hesperidean 5 hours ago

First step: governments ought to ban it. Second step: Assess the liabilities attributable to the maker for the disappearance of bees. Third step: if crops have been damaged or reduced as consequences of this pesticide, then hold that company accountable for it.

Any bets that none of the three steps will be taken? change_is_good and 5 more liked this change_is_good 5 hours ago in reply to Hesperidean

I couldn't agree more. Ban the pesticides and come down on the companies that produce them like a tonne of bricks - massive compensation, massive fines. If the public have been deceived in the interest of the companies' profits then jail those responsible.

And finally, don't accept the scientific studies of the pesticide companies as evidence! The researcher will probably have been commissioned to find a way of justifying continued use of their product. 6 people liked this.

helpthebees 3 hours ago in reply to change_is_good

I absolutely agree that companies need to be held to account.

Bayer KNEW about the effect of these chemicals on grooming behaviour. They state they did not test for this effect on bees. Why? Is it possible that if they had released truthful results, it might compromise their opportunity to earn the 500 million per year? In view of what they knew about the impact on termites, wouldn't a responsible company have proactively taken the necessary steps to ensure their products were safe before launching, and this would include testing for impairment of grooming on non-target species.

If Bayer are not held to account for their negligence, then, as with the banks, the tax payer will ultimately foot the bill (as we did for the banks) when it comes to water clean up, impact on crops and food prices, and conservation measures - not to mention the cash already spent on various research projects.

I do not know whether such laws exist, but I would like to see a law of 'personal responsibility', whereby companies such as Bayer are not allowed to hide behind regulations (e.g. the regulations didn't require me to carry out this test, therefore, we didn't think we'd bother'). And as part of this law, I'd like individuals (such as Mr Little) as well as the company, to be accountable.

Company directors and staff would soon think twice about their behaviour if they could properly be held accountable for it. 1 person liked this.

uanime5 54 minutes ago in reply to helpthebees

They didn't test the grooming behaviour of bees because they are not legally require to. This isn't negligence but due to a lack of health and safety regulations.

helpthebees 27 minutes ago in reply to uanime5

Again, that is my point. This is why I would like to see a law that considered personal responsibility - or reasonable responsibility.

Afterall, companies are the ones that innovate, not regulatory bodies. Regulatory bodies are constantly playing catch up with the science generated by industry - it takes time to change regulations in line with science.

Bayer knew their product impaired grooming behaviour in termites. I think there should be some kind of law, whereby they are expected to have taken reasonable precautions not to put the environment and species at risk, regardless of regulatory requirements for product registrations. Then we might reasonably conclude that Bayer should proactively have tested for effects on grooming behaviour of bees and non-target insects - which of course, may have meant they would not have launched their products - unless they wished to face legal proceedings.

Perhaps it isn't technically negligence from a legal stance at the moment - but morally? Reasonably?

If any one would like more information on the the behaviour of Bayer generally, google a site by the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers.

Then decide whether you wish to purchase products by such a company.

madnessofcrowds 6 hours ago

What the politicians don't grasp is how revolutionary these new pesticides are:
1. They are INSIDE the crops, inside the sap, pollen, nectar, leaves, fruit, grain - which means you and I are eating neonicotinoids in every slice of bread, every apple etc.
2. They are neuro-toxic - they affect brain cells in bees and in humans
3. They are fantastically poisonous - 6,000 times more toxic than DDT
4. They PERSIST in soil for decades: Clothianidin has a 'half life' of 19 years
Finally, they are everywhere: in the UK, around 3 million acres of wheat, barley, maize, oilseed rape, peas, beans, potatoes, sugar beet,tomatoes, peppers are treated with neonics.

The end-game is that if you see ANY field of arable crops in the UK - it has been treated with neonics and it is completely sterile of all insect and invertebrate life: below the ground - all the worms, beetles and woodlice are dead. Above the ground, all the bees, butterflies, bumblebees, hoverflies etc are dead. Bayer don't want wildlife of any kind; they want a vast, sterile, soil-substrate stretching from coast to coast in which to plant their deadly seeds. And they could care less that your children are eating nerve-poison every day at every meal.

"Would you like pesticides in that burger - well, never mind, you're getting them anyway!" notelove2 and 14 more liked this

cellorama 5 hours ago in reply to madnessofcrowds

Do you have a link to sources? I know very little about neonicotinoids and would be interested to know (thinking about writing to my MP).

helpthebees 4 hours ago in reply to cellorama

http://bit.ly/fJjjEx - use the contact form to request further studies not featured on the site.

Here is a letter you can use on the Buglife website: http://www.buglife.org.uk/cons...

madnessofcrowds 5 hours ago in reply to cellorama

Take a look at Amanda William's site 'Buzz About Bees'

http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/v...

There is a vast library of resources and articles there.

helpthebees 7 hours ago

I initially missed this statement at the bottom following Julian Little's evasive comment: "Specific tests to see whether or not bees' grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added."

I wonder if Mike McCarthy had to push Julian Little: have you tested specifically to see if the product impairs grooming behaviour in honey bees, or not? Yes? No?

Answer: No

And let's not forget about wild pollinators and other beneficial insects which engage in defensive grooming behaviours, from ladybirds to lacewings.

evelinev and 5 more liked this

Cugel Clattuc Law 7 hours ago

Ban then now while they are studied. evelinev and 2 more liked this

helpthebees 7 hours ago

For your info, here is a video showing how bees groom away Varroa mites: http://bit.ly/eObkXW

glueball 11 hours ago

GM crops! Weakening the bees defences or strengthening the pathogens? 1 person liked this.

zenithmaster 9 hours ago in reply to glueball

what are you on about? 1 person liked this.

rustygecko 9 hours ago in reply to glueball

Which GM crops in Europe? Did you read the article Glueball? 1 person liked this.

Zzarzax 11 hours ago

This is not news the fact that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees has been around for sometime, I read about it last year in Nexus magazine. 3 people liked this.

helpthebees 4 hours ago in reply to Zzarzax

You are right, the dangers of neonics to bees has been highlighted and ignored for a few years now. As Ray states below, the crucial point is the mechanism in which neonics affect bees - and other insects, not just honey bees, which has not been widely published.

And also, the point that Bayer cannot wriggle out of this. They admit the fact that this chemical impairs grooming in termites, which like bees are social insects. And they also admit they have not tested this factor in honey bees (but then, I'm not sure I would hold their research in high regard anyway).

Also, the regulatory bodies should be asking for such data - evidently they do not, otherwise, Bayer would have been required to conduct such a study. 1 person liked this.

Ray Holden 10 hours ago in reply to Zzarzax

The news is that they may have discovered a mechanism by which neonicotinoids affects the bees. rustygecko and 6 more liked this

Ray Holden 14 hours ago

Your picture is of a hoverfly. Hoverflies are bee-mimics. It fooled you! rustygecko and 9 more liked this

madnessofcrowds 2 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

It fooled Getty Images first! 1 person liked this.

glueball 11 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

Volucella bombylans?

Ray Holden 10 hours ago in reply to glueball

It looks more like a female Drone fly - Eristalis tenax. V.bombylans is a much more convincing mimic (of a bumblebee). I wonder if the picture was really and truly taken in Kew Gardens, or did they get that wrong as well. Mark Miles and 1 more liked this

Mark Miles 3 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

well done Ray - I'm distressed that people who cannot tell a fly from bee think they are at all qualified to comment (even Buglife which is hilarious)! It's an easy spot - look at the antennae. I'm an entomologist and I don't go around commenting on brain surgery maybe I should. Why should I let the fact that I know b*gger all affect me at all! 1 person liked this.

Matt_Shardlow 6 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

Ray is right, but hoverflies are important pollinators, they probably pollinate more flowers than Honey bees. Therefore, if there is an effect on grooming and health then hoverflies are also likely to be vulnerable. The original Buglife report http://tinyurl.com/46swecs highlights the uncertainty about impacts on the ENVIRONMENT not just on the domesticated Honey bee. In law it is the impact on the environment that the UK Government needs to consider when licensing the use of pesticides, not just the impact on Honey bees and agriculture. The Government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides, in responding to the Buglife report, effectively confirmed that there was little or no evidence gathered on whether systematic pesticides are safe for biodiversity http://tinyurl.com/48gsfsp. Why are they still on the market?



Matt_Shardlow 6 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

Ray is right, but hoverflies are important pollinators, they probably pollinate more flowers than Honey bees. Therefore, if there is an effect on grooming and health then hoverflies are also likely to be vulnerable. The original Buglife report http://tinyurl.com/46swecs highlights the uncertainty about impacts on the ENVIRONMENT not just on the domesticated Honey bee. In law it is the impact on the environment that the UK Government needs to consider when licensing the use of pesticides, not just the impact on Honey bees and agriculture. The Government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides, in responding to the Buglife report, effectively confirmed that there was little or no evidence gathered on whether systematic pesticides are safe for biodiversity http://tinyurl.com/48gsfsp. Why are they still on the market? 2 people liked this.

Ray Holden 37 minutes ago in reply to Matt_Shardlow

Hoverflies are both truly delightful and major pollinators! I see that Buglife in its 10 March 2011 Press Release says " ...while the health of domestic bees is important, more than 90% of pollination is done by wild bees, hoverflies, moths and other insects", I can accept that; and of course the wind plays the main role in the pollination of many of our agricultural crops. Although I have limited understanding of the issues, I had understood that the Varroa Mite is prevalent mainly in hive bee populations and that the question had been how the observed impact of neonicotinoids could be linked to this, given that the decline populations of hive bees appeared greater than the impact of either the mite or the "chemical" in isolation, when other contributing factors were taken into account. Am I wrong? Are neonicotinoids having a significant effect on non-hive pollinators? There does appear to be a lot of self-serving commercial interests at work obscuring the issues, and reminding UK government of its responsibilities does seem like a very good idea!



Ray Holden 10 hours ago in reply to Ray Holden

A Honeybee: http://flic.kr/p/9sNEkY Mal Adaptado 14 hours ago

"Dr Julian Little, Bayer's UK spokesman, said: "We do a lot of tests of the effects of insecticides on bees, and impairment of grooming has never shown up."

Specific tests to see whether or not bees' grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added."

- In other words, we haven't even tested that, and we don't give a flying F--- as long as we keep making lots of money. max1e6 and 23 more liked this evelinev 7 hours ago in reply to Mal Adaptado

exactly. This has been around for years, and for years scientists have been pointing at the neonicotinoids. Are we really prepared to sacrifice our food producing capacity to the bucks of Bayer and the like? God, how sad..... 5 people liked this. FirstAdvisor 2 hours ago in reply to evelinev

Please excuse me for being picky, but bees are no longer necessary for most crops, especially the grains that actually feed the world. The human use of bees is mainly for fruit orchards and luxury crops such as blueberries. Bees are not essential for the agricultural sector of any nation in the world anymore. The fertilizations they do are all for foods that are pleasant, but honestly luxuries, that people don't really need. All the bees of the world could die out, and that would have very little effect on the food the world eats in a year. Ray Holden 1 hour ago in reply to FirstAdvisor

Are there no longer any forest peoples who gather honey from wild bees as their only cash/trading crop?



We have reproduced this article for scientific purposes only, because of the volatility of the internet. Copyright
home | sitemap | ecostory | motivation | energy | scenarios | feedback
ecoglobe ecoglobe.org & ecoglobe.org.nz for realistic answers
1413