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EU To Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides 219

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bees-threatened-to-sting-them-to-death dept.
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that the EU has voted to ban pesticides containing neonicotinoids for at least two years, in an effort to isolate the cause of CCD (colony collapse disorder; the alarming disappearance of bees over recent years). Despite intense lobbying by the chemical companies, a 3-million signature petition helped swing the vote in favor of the ban."
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EU To Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

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  • Whoa (Score:3, Funny)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:36PM (#43586155)

    I read that as "Neocon Insectoids."

    Damn caribbean rum...

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:38PM (#43586169)

    How cow, if that doesn't show the lawmakers which votes they won't be getting... I don't know what will.

    US Take note, this has shown that even though Big Business is behind something, voters can say "No".

    • True (Score:2, Interesting)

      by EzInKy (115248)

      And possibly why slavery lasted so long in the US. Eventually it was force that brought the voting public to see logic and reasoning.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Shows how much people like honey if you ask me.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:00PM (#43586963) Homepage Journal

        Honey? That's all you think of when the subject of bees is brought up?

        With some notable exceptions, all of your vegetables and fruits are pollinated by honey bees. They all come from FLOWERING PLANTS, which require some agent to move pollen from plant to plant flower to flower. No pollen, no fruit - it's that simple.

        Mankind has largely killed off butterflies, and any other "pests" that might have performed the job of pollination. All that is left is the honey bee - which, of course, has been the most efficient agent of pollination for all of human history.

        If you like eating, especially if you like having any kind of variety in your diet, then you depend on honey bees. Even if you're allergic to all bee products, you still depend on bees. (never heard of anyone being allergic to honey - I just threw that out there)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Pecisk (688001)

          "(never heard of anyone being allergic to honey - I just threw that out there)"

          I, unfortunately, am (worst thing in my life, because it wasn't so in several years of my childhood - I know how honey tastes like, but can't even taste a bit). Still supporting ban and would like to see return of some sanity in farming in EU in general. Currently they just deplete soil just because they get bigger kickbacks for that. Screwed up big time. Some sort of support would make sense in territories where farming is strug

          • "(never heard of anyone being allergic to honey - I just threw that out there)"

            I, unfortunately, am (worst thing in my life, because it wasn't so in several years of my childhood - I know how honey tastes like, but can't even taste a bit). Still supporting ban and would like to see return of some sanity in farming in EU in general. Currently they just deplete soil just because they get bigger kickbacks for that. Screwed up big time. Some sort of support would make sense in territories where farming is struggling to survive as industry, but in rest of Europe - hardly doubt it. Of course farmers who are already heavily depend on subsides won't agree with me.

            I've heard of real progress with people that have severe peanut allergy alleviating it a lot to a little by introducing daily small quantities of the allergen. Only mild anaphylaxis side effects.i think it may just be testing it now. check it out!

            • by cornjones (33009)

              You are going to want to be careful w/ this. The people using this treatment w/ severe allergies were given microscopic doses of peanut, measured in a lab. This wasn't some guy at home just cutting up a peanut. Depends on your level of reaction, i suppose.

        • by DrXym (126579)

          If you like eating, especially if you like having any kind of variety in your diet, then you depend on honey bees. Even if you're allergic to all bee products, you still depend on bees. (never heard of anyone being allergic to honey - I just threw that out there)

          Infants can't eat honey because it can contain bacteria that causes botulism.

  • Oh, good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:38PM (#43586171)

    I'm happy to see that this important decision was made based on sound science.

    Or maybe it was made by weighing corporate lobbying against petition signing. That's probably fine too. After all, it's not like this was an important decision that should have been made based on sound science.

    • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alittlebitdifferent (728326) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:53PM (#43586301)
      The decision is the science...we should test this hypothesis by removal of the chemical from the environment.....then we review. Talking about doing science but not actually doing anything isn't really science in my opinion. In a lab, it is easy to test into bankruptcy without drawing any definitive conclusion as the natural environment cannot be 100% replicated. Removing it from the _actual) environment is the only true test (in my opinion) and using this approach we are actually performing a scientific activity on which to base future decisions.
      • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:27PM (#43586545)

        You don't even have to remove the chemicals from the environment. They aren't used around bee pollinated crops anyway. The chemicals come from thousands of miles away.

        Beekeeper greed induced them to winter their bees using corn syrup so that they could sell off more honey. The production of corn syrup did not remove the pesticides completely, and beekeepers started feeding that to their colonies.

        Long life pesticides should not survive food production, but because it was harmless to humans, nobody was watching too closely when beekeepers started raiding the honey and substituting corn syrup. [latimes.com]

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Meshugga (581651) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:08PM (#43586755)

          We don't use corn syrup in europe, as it's production is limited and you can't buy it in stores. Solutions of white sugar or molasses are commonly used by beekeepers around here.

          • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

            by arf_barf (639612) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:43PM (#43586901)

            A friend of mine has 20 bee hives on his property (Norther Europe). He has been doing this for over 20 years as a hobby and was also affected by various colony disorders from parasites to full on collapses. A few years back, he made an experiment and did not remove honey from the hives (it was a last resort). Surprisingly some of the colonies fully recovered. Anyhow, 20 hives is a very tiny data sample, but it does make you wonder...

            • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:38PM (#43587143)

              here's another data point: My mother had at one time as many as 8 hives in rural southern Ontario, Canada. On one occasion, she lost 2 or 3 hives to some fungal infection (the details escape me) and in another year she lost some to mites before buying more mite resistant breeds. Not only did she never feed her bees on any substitute, much of the time she wouldn't harvest as great a percentage of the honey through the season as commericial honey producers do. Her hives were also located in an area with a high proportion of dairy farms, many of them Mennonite farms, so her hives would have had far less exposure to commercial crop pesticides and herbecides. She never once experienced colony collapse, always had a higher survival rate from the various perils than most of the other honey producers in her local cooperative. Anecdotally, she claimed that her hives would usually be able to replace the honey she harvested faster than other hives in the cooperative.

              As a working theory; it does seem plausible that working hives to the very limit puts a great deal of stress on the colony, leaving them more vulnerable to mites, fungus, pesticides et al. In addition, people laud honey for it's anti-microbial properties, so it seems quite reasonable to suppose that it provides some medicinal effect for the bees that sugar solutions just can't match. Tale away all of the good food, feed them only substitutes and as little of possible of that and it doesn't surprise me at all that they are far more vulnerable to environmental threats.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by AtomicDevice (926814)

                It's not magic, honey has a low ph and high osmotic pressure (i.e. high sugar/water ratio) which lend it's antimicrobial properties. Plenty of beekeepers feed a solution of sugar similar in concentration and ph to their bees.

            • Your friend's experiment strikes me as very interesting. I hope someone else is looking at that.

              • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:58PM (#43587257) Homepage

                Your friend's experiment strikes me as very interesting. I hope someone else is looking at that.

                Some beekeepers here in Ontario has been doing the same thing. My cousin's commonlaw is a beekeeper. He suffered the parasite/hive collapse problem too, and instead of raiding the hive, he left them alone for two years. Surprisingly about 70% of his hives recovered, or were recoverable with the introduction of a new queen. This is on a small scale of around 50 hives. He's up around 300 hives now. The other 30% were lost due to parasites, and in one case a rather grumpy bear.

          • Re: Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup specifically) - it is probably available to food industry manufacturers and others through specialized supply chains. It isn't really a store shelf product, although corn oil is.

            As an aside, if you have a tolerance for shtick you might find these guys interesting, maybe not.

            Meshugga Beach Party - Shalom Alechem [youtube.com]
            Meshugga Beach Party - Zemer Atik [youtube.com]

            • by cffrost (885375)

              Re: Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup specifically) - it is probably available to food industry manufacturers and others through specialized supply chains. It isn't really a store shelf product [...]

              Yes, it really is: http://karosyrup.com/products.html [karosyrup.com]

              • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Informative)

                by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:21AM (#43587517)

                According to their FAQ, Karo is corn syrup, but not high fructose corn syrup, which is a modified corn syrup to change some of the sugars. You did make a good catch though - I had forgotten about them. [ Barely saved by a technicality. ;) ]

                Karo FAQ [karosyrup.com] (Reversed the order for clarity)

                Q. Do any of Karo's Corn Syrup products used in baking that are sold in retail stores contain high fructose corn syrup?

                A. No. When Karo was first introduced in 1902, it contained 0 grams of high fructose corn syrup. Like the original, all Karo Corn Syrup products used in baking that you can purchase today contain 0 grams of high fructose corn syrup. Karo will never add high fructose corn syrup to current consumer products or introduce new corn syrup products containing high fructose corn syrup.

                Q. What is high fructose corn syrup and how is it different from regular corn syrup?

                A. High fructose corn syrup starts with regular corn syrup (glucose only), which is modified by further processing and treated with enzymes to break it into two different forms of sweetness, fructose and glucose. In contrast, corn syrup is a sweetener derived from fresh corn picked and processed at its peak for flavor and sweetness. This is the ingredient in all Karo Corn Syrup products used for baking and sold in retail stores.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by mutantSushi (950662)
                ...And the topic of the thread is what is happening in the EU, not the US: In the EU corn syrup (high fructose or not) is not widely used as it is in the US, where it's widespread usage is largely due to agribusiness subsidies to corn farmers, without those and sugar tariffs there would be little reason to use (high fructose) corn syrup rather than other sources of sugar. High-fructose corn syrup (the sweetener of mass-market soft drinks in the US) is also linked to increased diabetes outcomes, even compar
            • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Informative)

              by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:39AM (#43588169)

              Corn syrup and HFCS are not really the same thing. You can get normal corn syrup in large containers under the Karo brand, in at least the USA. Karo syrup does not contain HFCS.

              Specifically, compare Karo corn syrup with HFCS:
              Karo is straight corn syrup, with minimal processing and some vanilla flavoring. According to Karo's website, it contains about 20% dextrose, and contains a wide variety of other natural sugars. (It is derived from starches, so likely contains maltose, amylose, and pals.)

              HFCS on the other hand is sweeter, because it is 50% glucose, and 50% fructose, and contains no other sugars. (Though it may contain chemical residues from the manufacturing process.) This is intentional, because it is made to compete with sucrose sugar from refined sugarcane, which is a fructose and a glucose bound together with an ether bond. The higher fructose content makes it sweeter than normal corn syrups, which have larger saccharides, and lower binding potentials to tastebuds, or which break down into larger monosaccharides with lower binding potentials. (The ether bond in sucrose is broken almost as soon as it enters the mouth by the enzymes in saliva. This is why sucrose tastes very sweet while being a larger saccharide. Other disaccharides like lactose and maltose, break down into larger monosaccharides than fructose. Artificial sweeteners are largish molecules (still smaller than polysaccharides though) as well, but have more hydroxyl groups, or more bound oxygen atoms serving as functional groups. This causes them to bind more aggressively with the sweetness receptors on tastebuds.) The fructose monosaccharide is the major culprit in the alledged health risks associated with HFCS (and also sucrose), since it is metabolized quite differently from glucose, and produces many harmful metabolic biproducts of that metabolic pathway. Others are the chemical residues often remaining in the syrup. In nearly every way, HFCS is metabolically identical to sucrose consumption, and much cheaper.

              Normal corn syrup contains significantly less fructose than HFCS, and considerably more glucose, and glucose producing disaccharides. It is therefore considerably "less bad" than HFCS or white table sugar. (Really, you shouldn't be eating high glycemic food products anyway, and they really can't be called "good for you". Instead, this mixture is just "less bad".)

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Interesting)

          by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:19PM (#43587047)

          The famous Harvard study is a little dubious in my humble opinion because it didn't include any measurement of the levels of pesticide in hfcs, nor did it involve actually feeding pesticide dosed hfcs to bees.

          • by zazzel (98233)

            Question to beekeepers: Is feeding HFCS/fructose to bees considered good practice? Sounds fishy to me, to feed bees a completely different sugar in place of glucose.

            • by dr2chase (653338)

              Plant nectar varies; I don't know exactly how it relates to HFCS, but it's not straight glucose, and has a fair amount of fructose, so it's probably not "completely different". You can see this in the way different honeys crystallize, or not -- tupelo's usually liquid, palmetto is usually crystallized. I think this means that tupelo has a lot of fructose in it, and palmetto does not.

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Informative)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:20PM (#43587053) Homepage Journal

          I had heard that before. I can't say how much of a factor it is in the decimation of bee populations.

          I do know that all the "tests" of these insecticides were flawed. And, I do know that Bayer stands up and declares all other studies on the subject are flawed, while declining to perform new tests, and blocking independent tests.

          The fact is, approval for Bayer's insecticides were given a bum rush through the original approval process here in the states, with no independent testing. The ONLY testing introduced to the approval process were Bayer's own flawed studies, performed in Canada.

          In effect, we took Bayer's word that their product was safe.

          Some interesting reading here: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Are-Neonicotinoids-Killing-Bees_Xerces-Society1.pdf [xerces.org]

          Question - should a seasonal insecticide remain in the soil for six years and more?
          Question - should insecticides spread far beyond the target fields and crops?
          Question - should the insecticide be systemic, being taken into every part of the plant along with the plant's nutrients?

          Many people believe that you can just wash the insecticides off of the produce when you bring it home from the farmer's market. With nonicotinoids, the poison is in every cell of the plant. The only way to "wash it off" is to flush the entire fruit or vegetable down the sewer. You WILL eat the poison if you eat the produce!!

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AtomicDevice (926814) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:25AM (#43587521)

          Forget about "greedy" beekeepers - neonicotiniods are indiscriminate insecticides. They'll kill any pollinator unlucky enough to be on the wrong plant. You know, pollinators that pollinate crops, maybe you heard about pollination, it's this crazy thing that makes your food exist.

          This isn't just a beekeeper issue, plenty of farmers depend on bees (almond growers, blueberries, oranges, etc) to pollinate their crop. The california almond crop isn't a crop at all without migratory bees.

          In other news: these pesticides are chronic toxins, they build up in bees until the whole colony keels over. There's other not-so-long-lived insecticides (i.e. organophosphate) that can be safely used even where bees are going to be, because it breaks down quickly, and unless the bees receive a lethal dose, they'll be able to pass the toxin.

          Whine about beekeeper's all you want, you're still pissing in the well if you think using nonspecific pesticides are going to do anything other than breed tougher bugs. Why do we keep having to develop nastier and nastier pesticides anyways? Because pests are becoming resistant to all the old ones because of overuse.

      • Except that doing that necessarily reduces our quality of life (if neonictinoid insecticides didn't improve agriculture they wouldn't be used) even if its just for X years. Its impossible to prove things with 100% certainty in the "real world" because nature isn't a lab which is why lots and lots and lots of testing in a controlled lab environment that replicates the "real world" as close to possible is necessary before you make any decisions on policy.

        Any time you ban something, you are going to reduce
        • Burden of Proof (Score:4, Insightful)

          by parabyte (61793) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:54PM (#43586691) Homepage

          I do not see why the burden of proof that massive dissemination of poison is harmful should be with the public.

          IMO those who manufacture and sell this stuff have to prove that it does not destroy our ecosystem.

          I know, the stuff has been at some point been certified, but I think that every company that manufactures a product has an obligation to monitor if it is harmful even after it appears on the market. You simply can not determine the long term impact of wide use on the environment with a handful of studies,

          p.

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Informative)

          by Meshugga (581651) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:10PM (#43586771)

          No, it does not necessarily reduce anything. It isn't good for industrial agriculture - but who said industrial agriculture is "quality of life"?

          Do you know that we are paying farmers not to grow too much crop?

        • No, it won't affect quality of life. It will ONLY affect the profits of pesticide producers - primarily Bayer.

        • by dr2chase (653338)

          Your reasoning ignores externalized costs. Neonic insecticides may improve the quality of life of Bayer and the particular farmers that they sell to, but if pesticide use causes a greater harm to beekeepers and to other farmers whose crops bees pollinate, that's a net loss. Yet Bayer and their customers have no incentive to stop.

      • by troll -1 (956834)
        Are we sure the decision is based on science and not emotion? After all, a lot of what people believe about organic foods, vitamins, vaccines, and herbal medicine is founded on bunk [badscience.net] but people still believe in it. Are we sure Neonicotinoid Insecticides are not being banned because they're man made and evil sounding?
        • Just because a blog claims stuff is bunk, it does not mean it is :D
          What you call a believe might for many people be a rational decission. With all informations available you sooner or later have to decide if you will feed your children with organic grown food or industrial grown.
          Many people forget over the years all the facts that led to their decission. So if you ask them later why they are convinced that organic is better, they only can give few reasons. That does not make them 'believers'.

      • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @04:03AM (#43588289)

        That'd be true if it was done right, but the decision is a complete and utter screw up.

        Only 3 types of neonicotinoid insecticides have been banned - imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. The problems with the ban are twofold:

        1) There are other neonicotinoids such as thiacloprid that work in an almost identical manner to imidacloprid. These will be used instead, hence if neonicotinoids are the problem, then this temporary ban is going to give misleading results as the problem will still exist due to other neonicotinoids in use.

        2) For some reason the ban covers amateur gardeners and use on house plants and agricultural use of flowering crops, but not non-flowering crops. I can't for the life of me fathom why very light use on the order of only millilitres by people on house plants is banned, but not the millions of acres of European farm land that grows non-flowering crops. This means bees are still going to pass through vast swathes of farm land that are covered in this stuff - but don't worry, if one flies into your house at least it wont get caught by the stuff in there. Stupid, really stupid.

        So you'll have to excuse me if I can't help but feel this experiment has been engineered to fail and to piss off the public. There's literally no logic in allowing it's use to remain on so many millions of acres, and to allow continued use of other neonicotinoids when you're supposedly trying to isolate them as part the problem. There's also no logic in allowing it to remain on such cereal crops etc. whilst preventing the average joe using it as pest control in their house or in tiny amounts and tiny areas of their garden or greenhouse where the impact will be negligible - this seems designed simply to piss off the public.

        The cynic in me says this is the EU commission trying to pretend it's listening to the public whilst creating a climate of support for the chemical companies involved. Companies like Bayer will be able to scream "Look, we told you it wasn't our insecticides, the problem is still there!" even though it'll likely be there other insecticides like thiacloprid that are the very reason the problem is still there. Amateur gardeners and house plants owners will get repeatedly fucked off that they now have much more limited options in dealing with invasive pests such as mealy bugs, red spider mite and so forth which can and have gained immunity to thiacloprid due to the fact it's now the only thing on the market for amateur growers. As a result you have amateurs up in arms that they now have no pest control outside thiacloprid - other insecticides exist for commercial use that aren't available to amateur growers so immunity on commercial crops isn't a problem as they can cycle through the options.

        It's just a complete failure of a decision all around. I'm 100% behind the cause of helping bees, and I don't like how much pesticides are sprayed not just that are systemic and end up in our food chain like all those I've discussed here, but that end up in our environment too. Despite this I can't support this ban because it seems engineered to fail and may set back public opinion on the issue by decades. This is not the solution.

        • If you want to get rid of spider mites, medicinal lavender, rosemary and mint extracts with a little surfactant, or neem extract work very well (although they do require multiple applications) and they are pretty much nontoxic, you could drink the stuff you're spraying.. though you might get a bit of a stomach ache. There are a lot of different natural ways to get rid of insect pests without harming the rest of the ecosystem (us included), they just require a bit more work than the spray and forget crap che

          • by Xest (935314)

            Sure, I'm told used cigarette ash soaked in water is effective too, presumably because some of the nicotine gets into the water, but I don't smoke nor do I know anyone that does so I can't vouch for it personally!

            The problem is that all of these are contact insecticides though and require you to both be able to see the pest (which isn't easy with true RSM) and get to it.

            I grow quite a lot of cacti and one some the ribs or wool is so dense there's absolutely no hope of hitting them with a contact insecticide

            • by jabuzz (182671)

              I believe the concept of using cigarrette butts is because they are a free source of tobacco, in the small quantity of unburned tobacco in the butt. If you don't smoke you can just buy some role your own tobacco and mash that into water instead. Actually using ash would be rather pointless I believe.

      • The problem is that BigCorps now only have to kill bees for two years to let the scientists think the chemical component is not the cause of the colony collapse.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I thought the science asked for it, then the corporations shot it down (via political pressure) because it would affect profits, so the public raised up and demanded the politicians follow the science, and they did.
      • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Informative)

        by gewalker (57809) <Gary DOT Walker AT AstraDigital DOT com> on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:20PM (#43586501)

        Or, from the obvious article Colony Collapse Disorder [wikipedia.org]

        These studies prompted a formal 2013 peer review by the European Food Safety Authority that said neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied is flawed.[12] CCD is probably compounded by a combination of factors.[13][14][15][16] In 2007, some authorities attributed the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites,[17] Nosema apis parasites, and Israel acute paralysis virus.[18][19] Other contributing factors may include environmental change-related stress,[20] malnutrition, and migratory beekeeping.

        Yes, of course *sarcasm* the science is settled *sarcasm* I think the science is pretty good against bees using tobacco -- but moderate use of marijuana is usually considered to be generally harmless and occasionally beneficial.

    • Any particular reason you chose the phrase 'sound science' rather than 'science' or 'ecological study' or any of the numerous other phrases that would have meant the same thing?

      It's worth noting that that particular phrase has an... interesting... history, going back at least as far as Phillip Morris' pet 'Advancement of Sound Science Coalition', which gradually mutated toward a more general state of optimistic nescience about anything its funders happened to manufacture.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Science hasn't been able to find the cause of CCD, and we don't have time to wait until it does. So we moved on to the next method, trial and error.

      • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jschrod (172610) <jschrod AT acm DOT org> on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:05PM (#43586739) Homepage
        > So we moved on to the next method, trial and error.

        As long as trial is based on hypothesis [what's the plural?] and measurable predictions for outcome -- well, that's what was called (experimental) science when I studied, some decades ago.

        • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:27PM (#43587095) Homepage Journal

          The hypothesis, basically, is that untested and poorly tested insecticides are responsible and/or contribute to CCD.

          The measurable results of this test (removal of neonicotinoids from the food chain) should be easily measurable by an increase of healthy bee colonies within the next decade.

          And, yes, it will take a decade to see the results - this pesticide stays in the soil for six years AND MORE.

          http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Are-Neonicotinoids-Killing-Bees_Xerces-Society1.pdf [xerces.org]

          • by sFurbo (1361249)
            Does the plants take it up from the soil? Things that bind that well too the soil tend to have low bioavailability.
            • Yes, I believe the PDF that I linked to specifies that the plants pull it from the soil. If it does not, there are references that indicate that it does - I'll leave you to search for them. I've read as much in at least three different places.

          • by jschrod (172610)
            That's what I meant; just that I didn't have a link to a study at the hand.

            Whereas, several scientists who got interviewed in the radio the other day claimed that one should be able to see an effect after roughly 2 years, even though the pesticide stays longer in the soil. That claim seems to be the reason why the ban is made for this length of time, at first.

      • by rossdee (243626)

        "Science hasn't been able to find the cause of CCD"

        I thought that the cause of CCDs was local politicians wanting to be Big Brother, especially in the UK.

    • by Pecisk (688001)

      Petition signing (done amazingly well by Avaaz as always) kicked in when industry moved in heavy weights to kill the bill, despite the fact that a) ban is temporary to verify scientific findings b) usually corp-friendly EC weighted all opinions and decided that this can't be delayed. Seeing EC doing something against whishes of Germany is rare sight - so those people are convinced and they never take their decisions lightly.

      So petition signing was to support countries and EC who where openly in favor of thi

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:50PM (#43586273)

    Although bees are endangered, they aren't the only ones pollinating.

    Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 17 - 23, 2013! [fws.gov]

    These hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops. Often we may not notice the hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies that carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar. Yet without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and we would miss many fruits, vegetables, and nuts, like blueberries, squash, and almonds . . . not to mention chocolate and coffeeall of which depend on pollinators. . .

    Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

    Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife. Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.

    In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010. . . more [fws.gov]

    Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees [boisestate...cradio.org]

    • One thing to keep in mind is that honeybees are not native to the Americas. They are an import. Brought over in 1622 by European colonists.

      This means indigenous American vegetation is not dependent on honeybees for fertilization.

      • Indigenous American vegetation depends on hfcsbees.

      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:13PM (#43587025)

        > This means indigenous American vegetation is not dependent on honeybees for fertilization.

        And what percent of the food in an average American shopping cart is actually derived from indigenous American vegetation? You know, all those alien foods from places like Europe & Asia that we eat here... lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, wheat, oats, rice, etc.

        Man does not live by ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, and nacho chips alone, even if it IS possible to make it through a Saturday picnic consuming little else besides beef ;-)

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        Counter point- neonicotinoids almost certainly affect all pollinators. Bees are the poster child as in reality they are by far the biggest modern pollinators. If we hadn't already killed most if the butterflies, they would be suffering from this just as badly.

    • by Tom (822)

      Although bees are endangered, they aren't the only ones pollinating.

      No, but you quote a 75% figure yourself.

      Imagine 75% of the contents of your local grocer disappearing and then tell me that ain't a major effect. Oh wait, your source already quantifies it in billion dollars. There's your economic impact right there.

  • Not a complete ban (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:53PM (#43586297)

    This class of pesticides will still be permitted (in most countries) for use on crops that bees have no interest in.

    These pesticides are extremely effective and yet very benign (as long as you're not a bee). It would be unfortunate if they were entirely banned.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:53PM (#43586303)

    So neonicintinoids of unknown bee toxicity and better cost effectiveness are going to be replaced by older pesticides of unknown bee toxicity and worse cost effectiveness.

    Quite an experiment they are embarking on.

    I don't think this will be over any time soon.

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:05PM (#43586391)
      The older pesticides are of unknown bee toxicity, but "provably" less. The bee populations didn't drop under their use. Bee pop did decrease under use of the new one. Whether cause or not, we don't know, but we know the older ones had a "better" correlation with goo bee health.
      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:41PM (#43586611)

        Correlations don't prove much, especially causality. There are other major variables here including the Varroa destructor, climate change, bee nutrition issues and the fact that there are places using neonicitinoids (say Australia) that aren't suffering from bee colony declines.

        France (for 10 years), Italy and Germany have already tried various bans on neonicitinoids and didn't find bee population improvements.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22339191 [bbc.co.uk]

        It's an unsettled scientific problem.

        âoeIf you want those perfect European apples, with no marks or bugs on them, Iâ(TM)m afraid farmers will have to spray something,â Mr. Neumann said, âoeand many of the older pesticides are even worse than the neonicotinoids.â

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/business/global/hoping-to-save-bees-europe-to-vote-on-pesticide-ban.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

        • by Dr. Spork (142693)
          Yeah, that was my first question: If not neonicitinoids, what will get sprayed instead? There's probably a good reason why we're not using that stuff now.
          • by Xest (935314)

            It's not a full ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, only three of them. Other neonicotinoid insecticides like Thiacloprid exist and act in pretty much the exact same way as Imidacloprid and the others that were banned anyway, so I suspect they'll just use that.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Correlations don't prove anything but the negative. You put water in a glass in the freezer, and it freezes. You put water in a glass on the counter and it doesn't freeze. That indicates (proof, by many's standards) that putting water in the glass didn't cause the freezing of the water.

          They don't know what they can do, so they are doing something that's "provably" not worse than today, in an attempt to help isolate the cause and address the issue. I haven't followed the issue too closely, bees are fine
    • by Tom (822)

      You've been drinking too much of the lobbyism cool-aid.

      From the little (but non-zero) research I've made into the subject, there is a very clear correllation between the banned substances and bee disappearance. While they are uncertainties, they are not in the "if", but in the details - how much exactly does this contribute? is it the only factor or one of several? what are the time scales? etc. etc.

      The main reason the industry is railing against it is the usual suspect: Money. This stuff is incredibly prof

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:59PM (#43586349)

    that if they vote no and allow the issue to get worse, that money may not matter because everyone will be dead.

    Bees are serious fucking business.

  • by slew (2918) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:25PM (#43586531)

    In case you didn't know, these "neo-nicotinoid" insectides are basically engineered substitutes for nicotine that affect insects more than people (as opposed to the normal nicotine that affects people more than insects). As I understand it, if an insect eats get too much of this chemical, their nervous systems basically stop working (it overloads certiain receptors so they stop propogating signals), and the insects become paralyzed and eventually they die. Apparently it doesn't get past the blood-brain barrier on most vertibrates, so it isn't too toxic to us (or so they say)...

    Typically bees don't eat plants, so in theory they are affected less by this, but it seems plausible to me that bees would be affect by this as well as I imagine insectides cannot be applied perfectly, and sustained exposure can't be a good thing.

    I have no idea how low-level exposure would affect a bee, but given how nicotine exposure affects humans, maybe there's something there...

  • At least one site [beesfree.biz] seems to say that the single biggest contributor is a parasitic mite and a virus that it spreads.

    The linked BBC article labels those as "merely" stress factors. It mentions - at the very end of the article, mind - that laboratory studies show that the compounds can do harm to bees ... but haven't been shown under field conditions. They COULD be much like the rats given artificial sweetener in order to help the market for the next artificial sweetener. Or, they could be spot on. (He

  • What if (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Progman3K (515744) on Monday April 29, 2013 @08:42PM (#43586621)

    What if you were a mega-corporation with unlimited funding, access to the brightest researchers in bio-engineering and you were trying to corner the world's food supply.

    You'd start by controlling agriculture; you'd develop seeds that would only germinate once, for example, to slowly drive farmers out of business.

    Next, you'd want to definitively stop people from producing food on their own, so you'd develop an artificial means of pollenisation and then develop something like say a virus or bacteria or even a toxic compound that you'd release into the environment to get rid of the top natural pollinators so the only crops that could grow would be under your control.

    Of course no corporation would ever do something like that, no one is that evil, right?

    Still, it makes a nice plot for an eventual James Bond or other science-fiction...

    • Of course no corporation would ever do something like that, no one is that evil, right?

      Rewatch The Matrix: We are already at war with the amoral intangible thought machines -- Corporations.

    • You're forgetting something important: the value to such a company of stopping people from producing food on their own is basically zero. OK, a little more than zero, but it's basically lost in the the margin of error. For every survivalist family of doomsday preppers growing their own organic food off-grid on a farm in Idaho, there are ~24,000 families that haven't eaten food that didn't come from a restaurant or a microwave oven within the past week, and a few thousand more whose idea of baking bread from

  • Is the compound persistent? If it is, then it may still harm bees even after two years of ban, leading to the conclusion that it was innocent.
  • For the curious, this is a neonicotinoid insecticide:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid [wikipedia.org]

    It is neonicotinoid because it resembles nicotine:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine [wikipedia.org]

    Which is why some organic pesticide tea recipes call for steeping plug chewing tobacco in water and using that extract on your plants.
  • by l3v1 (787564)
    The problem with this banning is that they _think_ these toxins cause the dying-out of the bees. Actually there are plenty of regions where they use them and they didn't see a decrease in bee population. In such regions this banning could mean a lot of problems, e.g. the need to find and switch to some other chemicals which could bring some other unforeseen problems - since the one banned is used for a long time, most effects and side-effects are failry known. But, since they don't really have a clue what c
    • Perhaps you should once visit europe?
      The green fanatic city dwellers usually know quite a lot about agriculture, bees etc. The reason is simple: the farms are not 100ds or 1000ds of miles away. They are around the cities and towns and sometimes even in the city boundaries.
      People in the cities have gardens, too! If the apple tree this year has nearly no apples, for no apparent reason, they blame the lazy bees! Some people (city dwellers!) even hold smal bee hives on their balcony. Ofc they are also affected

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