European Report Confirms World's Most Popular Pesticide Hurts Bees
Bees face risks from being exposed to pesticides, confirmed a report released by the European Food Safety Authority last Wednesday.
The report updated EFSA findings from 2013, which lead to the European Commission tightening restrictions on pesticides in order to lessen the risks associated with the bee population in Europe. The new evaluation is projected to lead to an extension of these restrictions, which include a prohibition of the chemical on bee-attracting crops.
“The availability of such a substantial amount of data as well as the guidance has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions,” said Jose Tarazona, the Head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit, in a released statement.
The report focused on risk factors associated with neonicotinoid, a type of pesticide introduced in the 1990s, according to the Pesticide Action Network. Now the world’s most popular pesticide, its uses vary from flea treatments for pets to lawn and garden maintenance and, finally, to agriculture.
Neonicotinoid in agriculture works by affecting the central nervous system, resulting in paralysis then death, according to Beyond Pesticides.
Generally, the report found that risk was present with the use of neonicotinoid across the board, although some elements constituted lower risks than others. The report’s varied results were contingent on the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide, and the route of exposure (residues in pollen and nectar, dust drift during the application process, and water consumption).
“There is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide and the route of exposure,” Tarazona said. “Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.”
Bees are exposed to this risk usually when foraging for food, because of dust drift or crops containing the chemical’s residue. In some cases, soil can become contaminated, which in turn contaminates the pollen and nectar of the newly grown plants on that soil. The information regarding this phenomenon, however, is limited, according to the EFSA.
After an EU-commissioned assessment regarding the status of bees, the European Red List of Bees was published in 2015. This list identified bee species threatened with extinction at a regional level. All native and naturalized bee species in Europe were listed.
The causes of this threat include urban development, increase in fire frequency, climate change, and agricultural methods.
Insect pollination has an estimated economic value of €15 billion per year in the EU, according to the list. The causes of this threat include urban development, increase in fire frequency, climate change, and agricultural methods. Additionally, approximately seven percent of bee species have declining populations, while less than one percent are increasing.
Additionally, a report by the Pesticide Action Network in 2012 also found that honey bee populations have gradually declined in the U.S. since 1947, at an average rate of about one percent per year. However, steeper losses recorded over four consecutive winters have also averaged to about 29 to 36 percent.
Bee populations are increasingly afflicted by Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon characterized by colonies found suddenly emptied of their adult populations, with no signs of dead bees, theft, or parasite invasions. Possible causes of this population collapse include nutritional stress, pathogens, and pesticide use.