“In the United States, drastic action is needed,” says Canadian geneticist Joe Cummins, explaining that U.S. farmers and beekeepers shouldn’t have to wait for more evidence or for an air-tight explanation for the complex syndrome, which threatens one in every third bite of food in the United States. Now most apiarists and scientists realize that pesticides are a factor in CCD, he says.
Cummins’ remarks, in an interview with GreenRightNow, come less than a month after Germany’s ban of clothianidin, a pesticide commonly used to keep insects off of corn crops. Germany banned the pesticide after heaps of dead bees were found near fields of corn coated in the pesticide, and in response to scientists who report that the insecticide severely impairs, and often kills, the honeybees that corn and other crops depend on for pollination.
The German government took the extraordinary action to protect bees and other essential pollinators, stating that there is now enough compelling evidence connecting the chemical to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in that country.
The ban also will likely fuel the European debate over genetically modified food, which involves treating crop seeds to resist harm from pesticide treatments. Critics of such modified foods say they are harming the environment, and have unknown human consequences, for little or no crop gain. Some scientists in Europe have called for their ban.
Bee Colony Collapse has been threatening bees, and the crops they serve, around the world for the past several years.
In other parts of Europe, including France, studies of other pesticides have shown they are negatively impacting bee behavior – and contributing to the collapse of entire bee colonies. France has outlawed the use of the pesticide imidacloprid — which like clothianidin is classed as a “neonicotinoid.” Imidacloprid has been linked to disoriented behavior in honeybees – and may help explain why many CCD cases result in abandoned hives.
“I think the Environmental Protection Agency would be well advised to put an immediate emergency ban on the neonicotinoid seed-treatment pesticides. I would say on all pesticides,” says Cummins.
The ban in Germany, and Cummins’ call for a U.S. ban, should be no surprise to the EPA. The agency’s own fact sheet on clothianidin shows that it has known of the dangers to bees since it conditionally approved the chemical in 2003.