Viewpoint: Neonics don’t threaten bees, ban could raise food prices, increase toxic insecticide use

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Neonicotinoid insecticides aren’t the problem for bees that activists have made them out to be. In fact, years of monitoring show proper use of neonicotinoids doesn’t harm bees. But a combination of issues do negatively impact bee health, according to experts.

In recent years, changes in colony health and fluctuations in bee numbers have caused concern. Multiple influences have challenged hive health and honeybee populations. These include: the parasitic varroa mite (largest contributor to bee loss); disease; loss of forage diversity; pesticides; adverse weather conditions; and bee nutrition.

Despite this, the number of bee colonies is growing, according to the Agriculture Department.

Researchers from the universities of Wageningen, Ghent and Amsterdam summarized 15 years of research on the hazards of neonicotinoids to bees. While many laboratory studies and other studies applying artificial exposure conditions described sub-lethal and other effects, no adverse effects to bee colonies were ever observed in field studies at field-realistic exposure conditions. Another recent causal analysis of U.S. researchers likewise concludes that neonicotinoids are unlikely to be a cause of honeybee colony losses.

Related article:  Podcast: Primer on bees, varroa mites and the 'beepocalypse' that never was

Banning neonics represents serious consequences. If neonicotinoids were no longer available, we’d have major concerns in agriculture — older, more toxic insecticides would be used; operating costs would increase; crop yields would decline; and insect challenges and resistance would occur.

Read full, original article: Column: It’s time to understand and embrace neonicotinoid insecticides

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