California Might Soon Put a Cancer Warning On… Coffee


Here’s what the science actually says.

 If a lawsuit currently being evaluated by a California court goes a certain way, coffee shops and coffee-selling gas stations may be forced post labels about potential cancer-causing chemicals.
 

They may even have to pay fines if they don’t warn customers about the risks of chemicals in coffee.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics – the group behind the lawsuit – wants to penalise companies that don’t warn customers that coffee contains acrylamide, a chemical that California lists as one “known to cause cancer.”

Acrylamide naturally forms when plants and grains are cooked at high temperatures. It’s created in the process known as the maillard reaction, in which high heat transforms sugars and amino acids in ways that change flavour and tend to brown food. When potatoes, bread, biscuits, or coffee are heated, acrylamide forms.

But there’s no conclusive reason to believe that coffee or other foods expose humans to dangerous levels of acrylamide. And there’s no known way to make coffee without acrylamide.

Acrylamide and cancer risk

The chemical in question here was first discovered by Swedish scientists in 2002, according to the American Cancer Society.

Data suggests that in large quantities, acrylamide is carcinogenic to some animals. Animal studies have shown that putting acrylamide in drinking water can give rats and mice cancer.

 But the doses they consumed in those studies are 1,000 to 100,000 times the amount people get through their diet.

According to officials at the European Food Safety Authority, “it is likely that it has been present in food since cooking began,” since frying, baking, and roasting all create acrylamide. (This is the case for foods derived from plants including grains, however, not necessarily for meat or fish.)

Acrylamide does pose risks to humans, as industrial accidents when people have inhaled large quantities of it have shown.

It’s also one of the many chemicals produced in cigarette smoke, though in higher amounts than from making coffee or toast.

It’s important to remember that the dose of a chemical generally determines whether it’s harmful. Caffeine, which is also found in coffee, can be deadly at high doses – but that doesn’t mean all caffeine is bad.

And if you eat cooked food, acrylamide can’t be avoided. It’s present in about one-third of the calories the average US or European person consumes.

Humans also metabolise the chemical differently than animals do and so far, studies haven’t found any harmful connection between consumption of foods containing acrylamide and various common cancers.

If anything, most of the data that we have so far indicates that people who consume a lot of coffee have a lower risk for diseases including liver disease, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and – especially important in this case – cancer.

 Health benefits of coffee

According to the evidence, drinking coffee isn’t unhealthy.

At least one major review of studies found that the more coffee people drink, the lower their risk for liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

review of more than 200 studies found that people who drank three or four cups of coffee per day were 19 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Heavy coffee drinkers have an 18 percent reduced risk for cancer overall, according to one large study, and some data indicates that coffee drinkers may be less likely to suffer from oral or pharyngeal cancer and advanced prostate cancer.

number of studies have also found that coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

As far as the risks go, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has studied coffee and warned that extremely hot drinks may pose cancer risk if they burn the esophagus. But they have concluded that the drink itself is unlikely to cause certain cancers.

Most of the health benefits researchers have found have been in observational studies, meaning we don’t know that drinking coffee is responsible for the reductions in disease risk.

But in most of those cases, researchers have concluded that drinking coffee probably isn’t causing any harm.

Pesticides may harm growing brains


Two neonicotinoid chemicals may affect the developing nervous system in humans, according to the EU.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) proposed that safe levels for exposure be lowered while further research is carried out.

They based their decision on studies that showed the chemicals had an impact on the brains of newborn rats.

bees

One of the pesticides was banned in the EU last April amid concerns over its impact on bee populations.

Neonicotinoids are “systemic” pesticides that make every part of a plant toxic to predators.

They have become very popular across the world over the past two decades as they are considered less harmful to humans and the environment than older chemicals.

But a growing number of research papers have linked the use of these nicotine-like pesticides to a rapid fall in bee numbers.

New levels needed

In April, the European Union introduced a two year moratorium on the use of several types of these chemicals, despite opposition from the UK.

Now EFSA, in a statement, says that it has concerns that two types of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid and acetamiprid, may “affect the developing human nervous system“.

They have proposed that guidance levels for acceptable exposure be lowered while further research is carried out.

The decision has been based on a review of research carried out in rats.

In one study, young rodents exposed to imidacloprid suffered brain shrinkage, weight loss and reduced movement.

In the statement, EFSA said that the two neonicotinoids may “adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory”.

Current guidelines, it went on, “may not be protective enough to protect against developmental neurotoxicity and should be reduced”.

According to EU Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent, they would now allow the chemical companies involved to comment on the findings.

“In principle, the next step would then be to amend the reference values,” he said, indicating that this would begin next March.

In their findings, EFSA pointed out that the available evidence had limitations but that they believed the health concerns that have been raised are legitimate.

But other experts said the move by EFSA was more of a precaution than anything else.

“The reduction in the reference values in most cases was modest,” said Prof Alan Boobis, from Imperial College London.

“Whilst there is clearly a question mark over the possible effects of these compounds on the developing brain, the conclusions of EFSA do not suggest that exposure of humans to these compounds at the levels that occur normally in food or in the environment is a cause for concern.

Artificial sweetener ‘is safe’


Artificial sweetener

The artificial sweetener aspartame is safe and poses no threat to health, European food regulators conclude.

The European Food Safety Authority brought forward its review, planned for completion by 2020, at the request of the European Commission.

Since it came into use in the 1980s, a number of medical studies have questioned aspartame’s safety.

The EFSA says it left “no stone unturned” during its full risk assessment.

“Start Quote

Aspartame has been the sweetener with the biggest ‘conspiracy theory‘ stories ever- ranging from behaviour issues in children to liver damage and cancer – all totally disproven, yet again, by this detailed scientific review”

Catherine Collins Principal Dietitian at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust

As well as looking at the available clinical evidence, the EFSA said it listened to stakeholders and considered over 200 comments submitted to its online public consultation.

Full assessment

Aspartame, which sometimes appears on labels as E951, and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure, says the EFSA.

Approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar, the low-calorie sweetener is used in many foods and soft drinks.

An Acceptable Daily Intake, or ADI, is set at 40mg per kg of body weight per day.

This is equivalent to 2800mg for an average British adult. For an average 3-year-old child the amount is around 600 mg.

The only exception is for people suffering from a rare genetic disease phenylketonuria who cannot safely consume aspartame.

For most products containing aspartame, consumption would need to be exceptionally high and regular over a person’s lifetime, in order to exceed the ADI.

Dr Alicja Mortensen, who chaired the EFSA’s aspartame review panel, said: “This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken.

“It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives.”

Catherine Collins, Principal Dietitian at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust, welcomed the findings, saying: “Aspartame has been the sweetener with the biggest ‘conspiracy theory’ stories ever- ranging from behaviour issues in children to liver damage and cancer – all totally disproven, yet again, by this detailed scientific review.”

Reports spark row over bee-bothering insecticides.


Pesticide manufacturer brands risk assessment ‘hurried and inadequate’.

Three reports by Europe’s food-safety body have stoked controversy over the possible links between the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and declining bee populations. One leading insecticide manufacturer has attacked the reports, calling them “hurried and inadequate”.

A number of scientific studies have linked neonicotinoids to adverse effects on bee colonies(see Nature video) but some researchers believe that the drop in bee numbers seen in the United States, Europe and elsewhere is attributable to a combination of factors.

Honey trap

The latest assessments from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, are based on existing studies of three neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The reports conclude that these chemicals should be used only on crops that are not attractive to honey bees, so that the insects are not exposed to the insecticides through pollen and nectar. Dust and plant sap contaminated with the chemicals may also pose a risk to bees, says the EFSA.

The EFSA is an independent advisory body, and any ban or restrictions on the use of the three chemicals would require legislation by the European Union (EU) or individual nations.

The work has attracted fierce criticism from John Atkin, chief operating officer at thiamethoxam manufacturer Syngenta, which is based in Basel, Switzerland. In a statement, Atkin said, “It is obvious to us that EFSA has found itself under political pressure to produce a hurried and inadequate risk assessment, which even they acknowledge contains a high level of uncertainty. Their report, compiled in under three months, has not taken account of the comprehensive scientific studies that preceded the launch of neonicotinoids, and many years of extensive monitoring in the field.”

EFSA did not respond to Nature‘s enquiries concerning these allegations.

Data gaps

The European Commission welcomed the EFSA’s assessments. The conclusions “are somewhat concerning when it comes to the potential impact of these particular products”, a commission spokesperson said, but “there are still many shortfalls in the scientific data that were analysed”.

Some EU member states are already scrutinizing neonicotinoids. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has commissioned field studies on the impact of the insecticides on bees. “If it is concluded that restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids are necessary, they will be brought in,” the agency said in a statement.

Bayer, a chemical company based in Leverkusen, Germany, which manufactures imidacloprid and clothianidin, said in a statement that it does not believe that the EFSA’s reports “alter the quality and validity” of previous risk assessments by the EU and member states that have permitted the use of its products. The chemical company pins most of the blame for bee declines on parasitic Varroamites.

Source: nature.com

THE BEE ISSUE..


Did you know… Bee pollen contains almost twice the amount of protein in beef, twice as much iron than any other food, substantial amounts of highly-absorbable vitamins and minerals, and thousands of world-class athletes even take bee pollen as a “legal sports enhancer”.

So… Just another reason to save our bees. As it turns out there is much more that bee’s can do. But first we must make you aware of the dangers of pesticides on the bee population. There are many that are petitioning to stop this and increase the chance of our friends living. (the bees)

2.6 million people have signed this petition to save our bees. We believe this makes the largest petition of human history. The 2nd following currently is the petition to stop Monsanto in Europe. Here is both in case you are interested. Please sign and share this article to help.

bee

2.6 million people have signed this to save our bees!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_bees_global/

2.1 million have signed this petition to stop Monsanto:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_vs_mother_earth_loc/

More reasons to save our bees – Here are all the related articles we have written.

The health benefits of real honey:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/06/health-benefits-of-raw-honey.html

The U.S. Approves of bee damaging pesticides as E.U. bans them:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/05/us-approves-pesticide-as-eu-bans.html

Pesticides damage bee brains:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/04/pesticides-damage-brains-of-bees.html

Bee propolis found to slow tumor growth:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/03/bee-propolis-found-to-slow-tumor-growth.html

Bee Venom Kills HIV study says:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/03/bee-venom-can-kill-hiv-study-says.html

Read more at http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/06/health-benefits-of-bee-pollen.html#IpObQzcJKYpO561C.99

Source: http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com

 

 

Beepocalypse Redux: Honeybees Are Still Dying — and We Still Don’t Know Why.


bee
The honeybees are dying — and we don’t really know why. That’s the conclusion of a massive Department of Agriculture (USDAreport that came out late last week on colony-collapse disorder (CCD), the catchall term for the large-scale deaths of honeybee groups throughout the U.S. And given how important honeybees are to the food that we eat — bees help pollinate crops that are worth more than $200 billion a year — the fact that they are dying in large numbers, and we can’t say why, is very, very worrying.

CCD was first reported in 2006, when commercial beekeepers began noticing that their adult worker honeybees would suddenly flee the hive, ending up dead somewhere else and leading to the rapid loss of the colony. On normal years, commercial beekeepers might expect to lose 10% to 15% of their colony, but over the past five years, mortality rates for commercial operations in the U.S. have ranged from 28% to 33%. Since 2006 an estimated 10 million beehives worth about $200 each have been lost, costing beekeepers some $2 billion. There are now 2.5 million honeybee colonies in the U.S., down from 6 million 60 years ago. And if CCD continues, the consequences for the agricultural economy — and even for our ability to feed ourselves — could be dire. “Currently, the survivorship of honeybee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of U.S. agricultural crops,” the USDA report said.

So what’s causing CCD — and how can we stop it?

The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a single smoking gun behind CCD. The USDA report points at a range of possible causes, including:

  • A parasitic mite called Varroa destructor that has often been found in decimated colonies
  • Several viruses
  • A bacterial disease called European foulbrood that is increasingly being detected in U.S. bee colonies
  • The use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, a neuroactive chemical

Since CCD isn’t so much a single disease as it is a collection of symptoms, chances are that some or all of these factors, working in concert, might be behind the disappearance of the honeybees. The presence of the Varroa mite, for instance, can worsen the impact of existing viruses, while the stress of shipping bees back and forth across the country — increasingly common in commercial beekeeping — may be amplifying the stress on the insects and leaving them more vulnerable to CCD. (If you think a cross-country flight is rough on you, just imagine what it’s like for a honeybee hive.) The fact that CCD is increasingly seen in other countries as well gives more weight to the notion that there may be multiple factors at work.

Still, environmentalists have focused most on the potential role of pesticides — especially the powerful neonicotinoids — and some lab studies have found that the chemicals can adversely affect bee health. It’s not that the pesticides — which are aimed at other insects — are killing the bees outright, but rather that sublethal exposure in nectar and pollen may be interfering with the honeybees’ internal radar, preventing them from gathering pollen and returning safely to the hive.

The USDA report mostly withholds judgment on neonicotinoids, citing the need for more research, and the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a very slow review of the evidence. Last week, though, the E.U., which is also grappling with CCD, decided it was done waiting, and announced a two-year ban on neonicotinoids. The European Commission enacted the ban on the recommendation of the European Food Safety Authority, which said in January that the pesticides should be restricted until scientists had cleared the chemicals of a role in CCD.

The chemical industry, unsurprisingly, disputes the finding. Bayer CropScience, a major pesticide manufactuer, said in a statement after the ban was announced:

As a science-based company, Bayer CropScience is disappointed that clear scientific evidence has taken a backseat in the decisionmaking process. This disproportionate decision is a missed opportunity to reach a solution that takes into consideration all of the existing product-stewardship measures and broad stakeholder concerns. The further reduction of effective crop-protection products will put at risk farmers’ ability to tackle important pests that can severely restrict their ability to grow high-quality food.

As Brad Plumer pointed out over at the Washington Post, it’s not that the E.U. necessarily has more evidence about the role that the chemicals might be playing in CCD. This is a classic case of policymaking by the precautionary principle. The pesticides are considered guilty until proven innocent, and so they’re preventively banned, even before the scientific case is rock solid. That’s not unusual for European environmental regulation, especially in regard to chemicals. In the U.S. it’s the reverse — before the federal government is likely to take the step of banning a class of pesticides, and pissing off the multibillion-dollar chemical industry, you’re likely to see a lot more science done.

So what we may get in Europe and the U.S. is a de facto field test of the real impact of neonicotinoids on CCD. In two years, if American bees are still dying and their European cousins are thriving, we might just have our answers. And if not, well, I hope you don’t like cashews, beets, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, chestnuts, watermelons, cucumber, fennel, strawberries, macadamia, mangoes, apricots, almonds or any of the other dozens of food crops pollinated by our hardworking, six-legged, unpaid farmworkers.

Source: Time.com

 

 

EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths.


dead-bees

 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups. Said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), one of the groups involved in the lawsuit:

“Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble.”

Lawsuit Maintains the Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Die Off Is ‘Crystal Clear’

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds before planting. This allows the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar.

These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other species, such as songbirds.

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.

European Food Safety Authority Ruled Neonicotinoids ‘Unacceptable’

The EPA’s continued allowance of neonicotinoids becomes all the more irresponsible in light of recent findings by other government organizations. Earlier this year, for instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops.1 The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the risks associated with the use of three common neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – with particular focus on:

  • Their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development
  • Their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior
  • The risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three chemicals

One of the glaring issues that EFSA came across was a widespread lack of information, with scientists noting that in some cases gaps in data made it impossible to conduct an accurate risk assessment. Still, what they did find was “a number of risks posed to bees” by the three neonicotinoid insecticides. The Authority found that when it comes to neonicotinoid exposure from residues in nectar and pollen in the flowers of treated plants:2

“…only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable.”

As for exposure from dust produced during the sowing of treated seeds, the Authority ruled “a risk to honeybees was indicated or could not be excluded…” Unfortunately, neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.

Serious Risks to Bees Already Established

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees.

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse.

Serious honeybee die-offs have been occurring around the world for the past decade but no one knows exactly why the bees are disappearing.

The phenomenon, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is thought to be caused by a variety of imbalances in the environment, although agricultural practices such as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are receiving growing attention as more research comes in. As written in the journal Nature:3

Social bee colonies depend on the collective performance of many individual workers. Thus, although field-level pesticide concentrations can have subtle or sublethal effects at the individual level, it is not known whether bee societies can buffer such effects or whether it results in a severe cumulative effect at the colony level. Furthermore, widespread agricultural intensification means that bees are exposed to numerous pesticides when foraging, yet the possible combinatorial effects of pesticide exposure have rarely been investigated.”

This is what the Nature study set out to determine, and it was revealed that bees given access to neonicotinoid and pyrethroid pesticides were adversely affected in numerous ways, including:

  • Fewer adult worker bees emerged from larvae
  • A higher proportion of foragers failed to return to the nest
  • A higher death rate among worker bees
  • An increased likelihood of colony failure

The researchers said:

“Here we show that chronic exposure of bumble bees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success.

We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.”

Why the Food Supply Could Be Dependent on Urgent Action by the EPA

The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder,4 yet they have been slow to act to protect bees from this threat. The current lawsuit may help spur them toward more urgent action, which is desperately needed as the food supply hangs in the balance.

There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.5 In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result.

There is also concern that the pesticides could be impacting other pollinators as well, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others, which could further impact the environment.

Four Steps to Help Protect the Bees

If you would like to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees. If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

  1. Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)
  2. Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.
  3. Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.
  4. Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!

Source: mercola.com

 

EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths.


dead-bees

 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups. Said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), one of the groups involved in the lawsuit:

“Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble.”

Lawsuit Maintains the Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Die Off Is ‘Crystal Clear’

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds before planting. This allows the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar.

These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other species, such as songbirds.

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.

European Food Safety Authority Ruled Neonicotinoids ‘Unacceptable’

The EPA’s continued allowance of neonicotinoids becomes all the more irresponsible in light of recent findings by other government organizations. Earlier this year, for instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops.1 The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the risks associated with the use of three common neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – with particular focus on:

  • Their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development
  • Their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior
  • The risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three chemicals

One of the glaring issues that EFSA came across was a widespread lack of information, with scientists noting that in some cases gaps in data made it impossible to conduct an accurate risk assessment. Still, what they did find was “a number of risks posed to bees” by the three neonicotinoid insecticides. The Authority found that when it comes to neonicotinoid exposure from residues in nectar and pollen in the flowers of treated plants:2

“…only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable.”

As for exposure from dust produced during the sowing of treated seeds, the Authority ruled “a risk to honeybees was indicated or could not be excluded…” Unfortunately, neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.

Serious Risks to Bees Already Established

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees.

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse.

Serious honeybee die-offs have been occurring around the world for the past decade but no one knows exactly why the bees are disappearing.

The phenomenon, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is thought to be caused by a variety of imbalances in the environment, although agricultural practices such as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are receiving growing attention as more research comes in. As written in the journal Nature:3

Social bee colonies depend on the collective performance of many individual workers. Thus, although field-level pesticide concentrations can have subtle or sublethal effects at the individual level, it is not known whether bee societies can buffer such effects or whether it results in a severe cumulative effect at the colony level. Furthermore, widespread agricultural intensification means that bees are exposed to numerous pesticides when foraging, yet the possible combinatorial effects of pesticide exposure have rarely been investigated.”

This is what the Nature study set out to determine, and it was revealed that bees given access to neonicotinoid and pyrethroid pesticides were adversely affected in numerous ways, including:

  • Fewer adult worker bees emerged from larvae
  • A higher proportion of foragers failed to return to the nest
  • A higher death rate among worker bees
  • An increased likelihood of colony failure

The researchers said:

“Here we show that chronic exposure of bumble bees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success.

We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.”

Why the Food Supply Could Be Dependent on Urgent Action by the EPA

The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder,4 yet they have been slow to act to protect bees from this threat. The current lawsuit may help spur them toward more urgent action, which is desperately needed as the food supply hangs in the balance.

There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.5 In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result.

There is also concern that the pesticides could be impacting other pollinators as well, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others, which could further impact the environment.

Four Steps to Help Protect the Bees

If you would like to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees. If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

  1. Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)
  2. Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.
  3. Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.
  4. Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!

Story at-a-glance

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups
  • The lawsuit alleges the EPA has ignored warnings that neonicotinoid pesticides are poisoning bees, and acted outside the law by allowing “conditional registration” of the pesticides
  • Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds and taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar, which bees depend on for food
  • The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder, and the European Food Safety Authority has singled out risks to bees from neonicotinoids, but the EPA has been slow to act to protect bees from this threat.

Source: mercola.com