By Jennifer Lea Reynolds
(NaturalNews) As if we need another reason to be very concerned about the harms of pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come out with its first scientific risk assessment study[PDF] which explains just how detrimental they may be. The agency studied neonicotinoids – a specific class of pesticides – and assessed their impact on bees in particular.(1)
By now, most people are aware that bees are vital to a flourishing food supply. Without them, a great majority of our food would be jeopardized. As it currently stands, about one-third of the human diet comes from plants that are insect-pollinated. When you consider that the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, it’s important to be cognizant of what’s happening in their world, that will either hinder or help their population. Unfortunately, it appears that the key word in that sentence is “hinder,” since dangerous pesticides are a great threat to honeybees.(1)
Although the study makes it clear that “Multiple factors can influence the strength and survival of bees whether they are solitary or social,” it is obvious that neonicotinoid pesticides are jeopardizing the honeybee population. For example, the EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, Jim Jones, noted that the pesticide, imidacloprid, which is the most common neonicotinoid, can be detrimental. Over 25 parts per billion of that chemical is the magic number; if nectar brought back to the hive from worker bees exceeds that amount – which it has – Jones says that “there’s a significant effect,” that can lead to less honey, fewer bees, and “a less robust hive.”(1)
In addition to pesticides, other factors can lead to honeybee decline
As for the previously-mentioned “multiple factors” outside of pesticides that can tamper with honeybees, everything from varying bee management practices to pests such as mites must be taken into consideration. They all play a role in the “uncertainty regarding the extent to which the effects of a chemical” may be entirely to blame in a dwindling honeybee population.
It’s also made clear that which particular crop the pesticides are applied to affects bee activity differently. For example, Jones explains that the nectar of cotton and citrus fruits is above harmful concentrations. On the other hand, levels were found to not be harmful for corn and most other kinds of vegetables, berries and tobacco.(1)
Are pesticides safe for honeybees, or do they put their lives in serious jeopardy?
For those concerned about the plight of the honeybee, the EPA study clearly illustrates that any risk to their population is a risk nonetheless. Therefore, the study demonstrates yet another reason such chemicals should be banned; honeybee health – and ultimately our food supply – depend on putting more stringent pesticide rules in place.
But, as you would expect, imidacloprid-maker Bayer Crop Sciences is bothered by the EPA study, saying that it “appears to overestimate the potential for harmful exposures in certain crops” while ignoring the benefits. They hold tight to previous studies demonstrating its safety on farms throughout the United States.(1)
Still, a lot of people don’t buy Bayer’s safety argument – or any argument for that matter, that attempts to justify neonicotinoid use.
For example, several people took to Twitter in reaction to the EPA study, expressing happiness that the EPA has confirmed what honeybee activists have long-known: that neonicotinoid pesticides threaten their population. Mike Adams, the Health Ranger (@HealthRanger), was among those who shared a related tweet, noting that “#Honeybees are the best pharmacists!”(2)
Why honeybees are good for us
Indeed, they are the best pharmacists.
The honey they produce (make sure to use raw, organic, unpasteurized and unfiltered honey), helps keep the good bacteria flourishing in the intestinal tract, and also provides the body with an endless supply of antioxidants. Furthermore, their honey plays a role in regulating insulin, managing a fever, easing digestion, alleviating allergies and can even help treat urinary tract infections.(3)
The honeybee’s survival is essential.
Neonicotinoid pesticides tamper with insects’ central nervous systems, threatening the honeybee and the many health benefits they provide.(1)
Sources for this article include: