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29
Mar

Studies Find that Pesticides Cause Brain Damage in Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2013) Two studies released Wednesday support the findings of the European Food Safety Authority that neonicotinoid insecticides pose an unacceptable risk to bees. The pair of British studies indicate that neonicotinoids and miticides cause brain damage, compromising bee survival.

The study, published in Nature Communications by researchers at the University of Dundee and Newcastle University, concludes that imidacloprid  and clothianidin, a commonly used insecticides on crops and plants, as well as the organophosphate miticide coumaphos, a treatment for Varroa bee mites, cause cognitive damage in bees. The research indicates that within 20 minutes of exposure to pesticides the neurons in the learning center of the brain stop firing, causing “epileptic type” hyperactivity. While the bees are still alive, the lobes of the brain fail to communicate with each other with obvious implications for their survival,

Another study, published in the Journal for Experimental Biology by a team of Newcastle scientists, links imidacloprid and coumaphos to learning and memory impairment. The research indicates that brain damage from pesticides makes it more difficult for bees to forage and find food, and when they find the food they have trouble locating and returning to their hives. In sum, the Queen bee starves as her worker bees fail to provide enough food, adversely affecting long-term colony survival.

Unfortunately, the effects of imidacloprid and coumaphos together are also additive, with bees less likely to learn and remember floral smells associated with sweet nectar stores —required for survival. Indeed, “Efficient foraging by bees depends on their ability to rapidly learn, remember, and communicate the identity and location of flowers offering nectar and pollen rewards,” according to the researchers.

The shift from organophosphates and carbamates towards systemic neonicotinoid compounds over the past 10 years has brought a slew of concerns. Neonicotinoids are considered systemic, so they are applied to the seed and translocates into all parts of the plant as it grows, including the nectar and pollen that are eaten and collected by pollinators. These non-target organisms have demonstrated marked declines, although pesticides as a cause has been debated and denied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Studies such as these further establish the role of pesticides in the decline of pollinators. EPA’s failure to regulate these pesticides adequately is all the more troubling since one in every three bites of food is completely dependent on insect pollination.

To learn more about Beyond Pesticides’ Pollinator Protection Program, visit our website. We invite you to discuss this and other important pesticide issues facing farmers, homeowners, and communities around the nation, at Beyond Pesticides 31st National Pesticide Forum in Albuquerque, NM on April 5-6. Organic agriculture, beekeeping, resilient food systems, pesticides, and much more will also be discussed. Space is limited, so register now.

Source: The Guardian

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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One Response to “Studies Find that Pesticides Cause Brain Damage in Bees”

  1. 1
    Diane Hill Says:

    Gentlemen:
    This issue regarding the use of dangerous,deadline chemicals marketed to kill annoying pests in our homes, in our yards and on the crops producing the foods we eat have their origins in the laboratories of Great Britain, Germany, and the U.S. dating back to WWI. Designed for Wartime use by scientists, these powerful chemicals were developed to destroy human life. One of these powerful pesticides was actually the “gas” that killed six million Jewish people in the “gas chambers” . After WWII, the chemical companies that developed these chemicals had to find a peacetime use for these weapons of chemical warfare and began to market them as a way to control crop production and keep our homes safe from pests who carried deadly diseases. Since that time we have seen a steady increase in the amount and the types of cancers in our population, in addition to the increase in childhood cancers. The only reason we humans do not die from pesticides and herbicides as quickly as the pests do is because we are higher up on the food chain.

    Proprietary Trade Agreements prevent chemical companies from divulging the ingredients in pesticides sold by retailers. Harmful ingredients are marked as 99% inert. There also is no control over how these chemicals are mixed when they reach the Pest control companies or are applied to crops.

    If you want to go after this hige powerful lobby, attack the origins of the chemicals and then expose the reationships that their lobbyists have with government agencies like the EPA.It is time to go after the source of this escalating, deadly issue by speaking the truth.

    Good luck. I tried in the mid-eighties and was laughed at.

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