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Posted Thu Mar 29 2012: from Science, via The Guardian:
Neonicotinoid Pesticides linked to honeybee decline
The new research strongly links the pesticides to the serious decline in honey bee numbers in the US and UK -- a drop of around 50 percent in the last 25 years. The losses pose a threat to food supplies as bees pollinate a third of the food we eat such as tomatoes, beans, apples and strawberries. Scientists found that bees consuming one pesticide suffered an 85 percent loss in the number of queens their nests produced, while another study showed a doubling in "disappeared" bees -- those that failed to return from food foraging trips. The significance of the new work, published Science, is that it is the first carried out in realistic, open-air conditions.... The pesticides investigated in the new studies - insect neurotoxins called neonicotinoids - are applied to seeds and flow through the plants' whole system. The environmental advantage of this is it reduces pesticide spraying but chemicals end up in the nectar and pollen on which bees feed. Goulson's group studied an extremely widely used type called imidacloprid, primarily manufactured by Bayer CropScience, and registered for use on over 140 crops in 120 countries.... "There was a staggering magnitude of effect," said Goulson. "This is likely to have a substantial population-level impact."
[Read more stories about: massive die-off, pesticide runoff, toxic buildup]

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