From GMOs to neonics, what’s causing bee deaths?

hive collapse

A spike in bee deaths in 2004 and 2006, and continued reports since then of higher than expected overwinter die-offs, has sparked a spate of articles with doom-and-gloom themes using such charged words as “beepocalypse” and “beemageddon.” According to some media accounts, bees are dying in record numbers–a phenomenon often incorrectly referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Because of the critical role of honeybees as one of Nature’s most important pollinators, many grains, nuts and fruits could conceivably be threatened. The search for causes led advocacy groups to initially single out GMOs, although there was no evidence to support those allegations. They’ve since coalesced around the view that pesticides are the main driver explaining declining bee health, fingering in particular a class of relatively new agricultural chemicals known as neonicotinoids, often called neonics. Last December, after a split vote, Europe voted in a two year moratorium on neonics, and advocacy groups are pressuring the US and Canada to follow suit.

Are bee hives in decline? What does the fast-emerging science say about what is likely impacting bee health? The Genetic Literacy Project’s Jon Entine, writing in Forbes, has taken a deep dive into the controversy and discovered that there’s a growing gap between the popular, activist and media narratives and the experiences of farmers and the latest state-of-the-art empirical evidence.

Related article:  Chemical giant Bayer challenging Europe's neonicotinoids ban

In reviewing the emerging research on challenges to bee health, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, chairwoman of a major National Academy of Sciences study on the loss of pollinators, said recently that she was “extremely dubious” that banning neonics, as many green activists are demanding, would have any positive effect. The key challenges to bee health going forward, entomologists say, are colony management issues, the blood-sucking varroa mite, the miticides beekeepers themselves use to control varroa infestations and various viruses.

“If the Environmental Protection Agency moves to restrict neonicotinoid pesticides because of fears that they are causing bee deaths, it will happen in spite of the mounting evidence rather than because of it,” Entine writes.

Read full original  article: Bee Deaths Reversal: As Evidence Points Away From Neonics As Driver, Pressure Builds To Rethink Ban

Additional Resources:

 

 

 

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Nigeriacotton

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend