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Earth Science

Pesticides Turn Bumblebees Into Poor Pollinators (acs.org) 93

MTorrice writes about a new study that suggests neonicotinoids, one of the most widely used insecticides in the world, turn bumblebees into poor pollinators, leading to lower yields of apples and other plants. Chemical & Engineering News reports: "Neonicotinoid pesticides have been blamed for declines in bee populations worldwide. The chemicals don't kill bees, instead neonicotinoids impair the insects' abilities to learn, navigate, forage for nectar, and reproduce, according to studies published over the past several years. Now, researchers report that bees exposed to the pesticides also become less effective pollinators for crops. The study is the first to demonstrate that neonicotinoids can decrease the quality of a food crop by affecting bee pollination. About 30% of our food comes from crops, including fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils, that depend on insect pollinators, according to Dara A. Stanley of Royal Holloway, University of London, who led the new study. 'Basically,' she says, 'you can't have a balanced diet without insect pollination.'"
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Pesticides Turn Bumblebees Into Poor Pollinators

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  • If it doesn't kill you, that doesn't mean its good to use in small amounts. Never trust perverse market incentives to pay for honest scientific research.

    • Some poisons are subtler than others; but ones that target the nervous system are good candidates for 'effects will be a pain in the ass to tease out; but probably start to show up at doses well below lethal'.
  • If the pesticides are a problem, let's address it. There's no need to pretend we're in for a future "without insect pollination". If this phenomenon is a real problem that can be demonstrated, then why hype it up? Why exaggerate?

    Farmers know how to grow food. If some problem threatens their ability to grow food, they'll find a solution to the problem.

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:04PM (#50982193) Journal

      With all due respect to farmers, they'll probably need some help with this. They know how to grow food, but not necessarily how to create better pesticides.

      And what's with the claim of hype or exaggeration? The full context of what you quoted, in TFS and TFA, is:

      About 30% of our food comes from crops, including fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils, that depend on insect pollinators, according to Dara A. Stanley of Royal Holloway, University of London, who led the new study. 'Basically,' she says, 'you can't have a balanced diet without insect pollination.'"

      I see no hype or exaggeration here. Just rational and accurate communication.

      • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:15PM (#50982243)

        About 30% of our food comes from crops, including fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils, that depend on insect pollinators, according to Dara A. Stanley of Royal Holloway, University of London, who led the new study. 'Basically,' she says, 'you can't have a balanced diet without insect pollination.'"

        I see no hype or exaggeration here. Just rational and accurate communication.

        Truth can be hype to some folks.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        The implication is that we may someday be "without insect pollinators". We won't. It's hype - hyperbole - an exaggeration for effect -- to imply a future condition "without insect pollinators". Perhaps that's not what the scientist intended, but now the words have been quoted and re-quoted in a different context.

        People who grow "fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils" know what they are doing. If they need insect pollinators, they'll make sure they have insect pollinators in the right quantity, with the right po

        • If they need insect pollinators, they'll make sure they have insect pollinators in the right quantity, with the right pollinating ability, to make their crop a success.

          I never knew that nut farmers had such godlike powers.

          I wonder why they're not using those powers right now to bring the perfect amount of rain to California, though.

          • Here is what our future probably holds:

            China's apple growers are hand pollinating apples

            https://www.chinadialogue.net/... [chinadialogue.net]

            Pears: http://thebeephotographer.phot... [photoshelter.com]

            Great Britians bee loss

            http://www.collective-evolutio... [collective-evolution.com]

            And on and on, and on.

            I keep writing about it, but seriously, Humans cannot defy nature or physics just because we feel like it. Bee death denials

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            I never knew that nut farmers had such godlike powers.

            It's called a telephone. You call up the bee supplier. He arrives with bees. Hives are setup near your crops. Bees pollinate. Later, the bee supplier picks up the hives and invoices you for the bee rental.

            I wonder why they're not using those powers right now to bring the perfect amount of rain to California, though.

            This is called irrigation.

            You must think farmers just have big plots of land and food crops just randomly happen to grow there.

            • You call up the bee supplier. He arrives with bees.

              That works great.

              Unless he doesn't have any god-damned bees any more. Have you been living under a rock for the past five years?

              • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                The bee supplier knows how bees make more bees. When he wants more bees, he raises more bees.

                None of this is random chance.

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        Bees is a small subset of insect pollinators.
    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:14PM (#50982241)

      If the pesticides are a problem, let's address it. There's no need to pretend we're in for a future "without insect pollination". If this phenomenon is a real problem that can be demonstrated, then why hype it up? .

      Because I'm certain that we can find some scientist, probably paid by the industry making Neonicotinoid pesticides, who will deny a problem, and a whole lot of people will hop on that bandwagon, just like global warming deniers, vaccine deniers, evolution deniers, moon landing deniers, tobacco and lung cancer deniers, and all the other happy little deniers out there. In 21st century America, Opinion trumps science every time.

      Teach the controversy!

      • by delt0r ( 999393 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @09:21AM (#50984525)
        Or you could you know look at the data. There is a lot more than just this study about this. Fact is the data is not nearly as clear cut as the summary claims. What is clear is how crops handle not using pesticide, they don't. You know organic crops use pesticide right? You think you can just ask all the insects to be nice to your crop just because you decided it organic?
        • Or you could you know look at the data. There is a lot more than just this study about this. Fact is the data is not nearly as clear cut as the summary claims. What is clear is how crops handle not using pesticide, they don't. You know organic crops use pesticide right? You think you can just ask all the insects to be nice to your crop just because you decided it organic?

          So you are saying that an ihnsecticide won't harm bees? Or do we just give up and do like China is doing now, and have peopel pollinate crops?

          And, you actually wrote"

          What is clear is how crops handle not using pesticide, they don't. /p>

          SRSLY? Are you just trying to lull me into complacency, laughing, by posting the stupidest comment on the web ever?

          So plants did not exist until we invented insecticide?

          Not much point in arguing with someone who would post that.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      because people like you deny there is a problem until its too late and just assume that 'the farmers' will fix it before its too late, when most 'farmers' are big corporations who care more about next quarter profit statements than the long term production of crops.

  • ... I feel sorry for. They'll need plenty of financial compensation for this fuckup.

    • by pi_rules ( 123171 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @11:19PM (#50983205)

      Neonics have been in popular use since the 90's and increasing every year. If the use of them was hurting yield (it isn't) farmers would have noticed by now. They're using them because it increases yield in a cost effective manner and it's not a simple story.

      Neonics are useful because they're deliverable in powder form, you can coat a seed with it, and it'll protect the seed from insects while germinating. After that the plant will take up the chemical to provide some systemic activity for a period of time. This helps the young plants get established. After about 30 days they're gone and not doing anything.

      They started being used in the 90's for field farming because you could seed at a lower rate, but seed is, generally, very cheap so it wasn't too common. Pumpkins? Sure. Corn? No way -- too cheap of seed. When GMO corn, soy, cotton, etc came along THEN you saw a big uptick in neonics as it was now beneficial to protect those seeds as the GMO crops were fairly expensive seed.

      Apiaries (bee keepers) might be taking a bit of hit but that's just part of dropping your bees off at a farm where a simple mistake can kill most of them. One entymologist I've heard speak on this pointed out a farm that killed a bunch of rented bees with vegetable oil... and yes vegetable oil is an insecticide. Another killed a bunch with RoundUp, an herbicide, but too much will kill a bee. Pretty much anything will kill a bee. The fact that neonics aren't terribly fatal to them is amazing, and public resistance to them confounds me and generally every other guy that's donned a chem suit and went to town on bugs. The alternatives are generally horrible to bees. Push back on neonics is going to result in more pyrethroids, carbamates and organophosphates. Every single one is toxic to bees, horribly so, and carbamates and organophosphates are bad news for humans.

  • Newsflash (Score:3, Funny)

    by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:07PM (#50982207)
    Newsflash: chemicals used because of they harm insects end up harming insects.
  • Irony (Score:4, Informative)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:24PM (#50982299)
    This is coming from the country that lifted a ban on neonictonoids... http://www.theguardian.com/env... [theguardian.com]
  • Practical and direct, just great analysis.! https://www.facebook.com/julio... [facebook.com]
  • by excelsior_gr ( 969383 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @02:47AM (#50983655)

    Correction: 100 % of our food comes from crops. What do you think that steak was eating before landing on your plate? Also, inefficient as hell, but steak does taste nice.

  • Pesticides harm pests. Bees are pests. Pesticides harm bees. And we're done.

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