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Earth Biotech Science

Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder 217

walterbyrd (182728) writes in with news about a new study from Harvard School of Public Health that links two widely used neonicotinoids to Colony Collapse Disorder. "Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or the widespread population loss of honeybees, may have been caused by the use of neonicotinoids, according to a new study out of Harvard University. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine. They were first developed for agricultural use in the 1980's by petroleum giant Shell. The pesticides were refined by Bayer the following decade. Two of these chemicals are now believed to be the cause of CCD, according to the new study from the School of Public Health at the university. This study replicated their own research performed in 2012."
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Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:18PM (#46976443)

    Insect poison found to be harmful to insects. Imagine that!

  • this is news??? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rewindustry ( 3401253 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:21PM (#46976457)

    has been all over the papers the past two years, almost, outside northa merkin land..

  • by Antony T Curtis ( 89990 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:27PM (#46976487) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how Bayer is going to keep this new study out of their court case where they're suing the EU for banning neonicotinoid pesticides.

  • Re:this is news??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:57PM (#46976615)
    The study published last week has been in the news for 2 years? I remember seeing this, and 1000 other theories over the last 2 years, but not too much about studies supporting one over another.
  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:12AM (#46976659)

    Indeed. Unfortunately, from what I've been able to gather, they merely identified that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and cause CCD symptoms, without drawing any sort of correlation between the rise of the CCD pandemic and the rise of neonicotinoids in the market, let alone demonstrating that as neonicotinoids spread to various regions, CCD spread with it.

    It's one thing to say "hemlock is poisonous to humans". It's quite another to say "Socrates died from drinking hemlock". Kudos to them for identifying something that's harmful to bees and seems to cause CCD, but finding a cause for CCD is quite different from finding the cause for the CCD pandemic. I hope they can provide evidence of the latter.

  • by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:33AM (#46976767)

    The company behind Zyklon B wouldn't lie!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:57AM (#46976865)

    If you were going for a joke, you failed miserably and should be ashamed.

    If you weren't joking... just fucking kill yourself.

    so let's suppose you say that to some random internet stranger one day. just like you did a thousand times before. only this time, the person actually does kill themselves. right after reading your post. and you find out about it. how are you supposed to feel?

    sure, if they do it so easily they were on the edge anyway. but who is to say they would not have found help and hope if they never read your "recommendation"? how could you ever rule that out? in what way would you bear no guilt at all?

    be careful what you wish for.

  • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:22AM (#46976953)

    Real Farmers don't need chemicals.

    You're saying the people who produce the most food aren't real farmers? Nice. But yeah, polyculture is great and all in your garden, and intercropping systems are something worthy of more research, sure, but economically scaling it up might be a problem, and even then, it is highly unlikely to be the end of pest problems. The thing with simple solutions is that if they were really that simple everyone already be doing them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:34AM (#46977165)

    Different AC here, but I'll put it this way: if you and your ilk killed yourselves, we wouldn't have to read harping posts like the one you just posted.

    The air would be fresher, the grass would smell sweeter, ice cream would taste better than it ever had before... well, you get the picture: life would be guilt-free bliss for the rest of us.

    Have a nice day!

  • by burne ( 686114 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:16AM (#46977439)

    Enough neonicotionoid progress and you might have nothing left to eat. Or take turns pollinating the plants that will become your food with a brush.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:40AM (#46977509)

    Imidaclopirid is a really useful insecticide, and I am not at all thrilled that it might be completely banned. It works perfectly in greenhouses and indoors. Perhaps instead of banning it, they could increase the number of beehives by a factor of ten? Or maybe they could breed imidaclopirid-resistant bees?

    Banning the substance might be an incentive for them to develop something better, which has been better tested? Historically, that is the way things have always progressed - some new substance is hailed the new panacea, it is then discovered to be too dangerous in certain respects; then follows the usual struggle with those whose greed far outweighs their concern for the harm they cause. Just look at the history of things like opium, then heroin, cocaine, strychnine, arsenic etc.

    Personally, I think there are many more factors involved in CCD, and all have to do with people who cut corners to increase profit. There is little doubt that these poisons play an important role, and it would be a good idea to ban them. But we also need to address the other factors:

    - Farmers that spray over open flowers and far too often, thereby loading the environment with poisons.
    - Beekeepers who lug hundreds or thousands of colonies around the country on lorries, spreading diseases and parasites, as well as stressing the bees.
    - Monocultures of both bees and crops.

    These are all difficult problems to solve, but they are not impossible. Farmers can be educated - the modern farmer is already highly educated, so of course they can learn better practices. There are many ways to encourage local beekeeping in favour of these huge, industrial scale setups; an outright ban might be worth considering. Yes, those huge beekeepers might go out of business, but is that any worse than, say, closing a factory in Detroit? And it will open the market for the small, local beekeepers.

    As for monocultures - there is probably a good middle ground between the gigantic monocultures we see, especially in the US, and the complete mixing of crops in the same field. In many countries you will find that farms have a variety of crops - relatively small fields of monocultures, but differents crops in each field, a model which still allows for mechanical harvesting and high yields, and which is better for the environment in general.

    As for bees - there are 20000 known species of bees, all of which play a role in pollination, but we only keep one species. And in fact, we only keep a small subset of that one species - the subset that has been optimised for honey yield, ease of management etc.

    What really gets me up in arms is this attitude of giving up without even trying - "It sounds like it migh be inconvenient, so I don't want that". We have progressed this far by solving problems and changing our habits, by being willing to face reality and overcome challenges.

  • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @07:20AM (#46977857)

    "copper and sulfur" if that's the worst examples he can come up with of pesticides used in organic farming I'll take it.

  • by smoore ( 25406 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @08:36AM (#46978143) Homepage

    they could increase the number of beehives by a factor of ten?

    Clearly you are not a beekeeper. I am. There are many limiting factors in increasing the number of hives maintained. The shear amount of work and time it takes you to maintain the hives becomes unmanageable. Hiring employees isn't as easy as it is with other profession, for some reason lots of people won't take a job where they wear a sealed up thick hot suit in the blazing sun all day because its the better choice than getting stung by the insects you are working with.

    You also need the physical space for the hives in a place where there is enough forage for the bees to feed on. Increasing by a factor of 10 isn't just adding 10 new hives to one location for every one already there, its finding new sites in rural areas a significant distance from the sites you already have (bees typically fly up to 3 miles). Having new sites vastly increases the amount of time it takes to maintain the hives since a lot of travel time is added in addition to the extra management. While backyard beekeepers can keep a few hives and no one notices, 10+ in a single location means you need to start looking for places with acreage isolated from the public.

    On top of that the equipment has to purchased, built, painted and carted to the new areas (you can hire for this part thankfully). The existing hives have to be split in a responsible manner that leaves the parent hive strong enough to survive, getting 3-4 new hives out of 1 every year is more than is usually practical 10 is ridiculous. Doing one split in spring (going from 1 hive to 2) is common, maybe a second split in late spring or fall if the hive is strong.

    Then you have to add in the winter losses. Losing 25%-30% of your hives over winter is not uncommon or too far out of the norm. The more you split the weaker the hives will be and the fewer that might make it through the winter.

    Once you have planned out all that you need the money to do it. Having a few hives for a hobby is nice, having dozens if not hundreds is a business. In order to support the capital investment in equipment, workers and bees you need pollination contracts (thats what makes beekeepers money, honey is a sideline). Which means you need farmers planting crops that they need bees to pollinate. Of the top crops in America (Corn, Soybeans, Hay, Wheat, Cotton ,Sorghum, Rice) only soybeans and cotton produce the nectar to feed bees. Putting bees in typical American wheat field is putting them in a food desert, they will starve. And while bees will pollinate soybeans and cotton the farmers don't need them pollinated so aren't going to pay you to put bees there. Our monoculture farming practices, and the crops we produce limits the locations you can keep bees and have some one pay you to do so. When the monoculture crop is done flowering you have to move the bees because the monoculture farming practices means as soon as a bee friendly crop is done blooming the area is a food desert again.

  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:18AM (#46978919)

    If a farm uses harmful pesticides, it should not be called organic. If calling it that is legal in the US, then the word has become meaningless.

  • I see you have bought into the lies hook line and sinker. []

    Organic farming produces less yields, is more harmful to the environment used more pesticides and herbicides, but it gets a free pass becasue of the word 'Natural'. The fruit is no more or less nutritional then science based farming,

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev