Dead bee

Bayer CropScience, the leading manufacturer of imidacloprid systemic-based pesticides, is the target of criticism and calls to ban the company’s products after new research findings indicate imidacloprid as a major culprit in the recent decline of honeybee populations in a condition that’s commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder. Without healthy honeybee populations contributing to the pollination of hundreds of plants, millions of farmers and fruit and vegetable crops would cease production.

Published in the most recent issue of the German journal Naturwissenschaften, the study links new evidence to the common pesticides—which treat the seeds instead of plants thereby seeping into the pollen and nectar collected by bees—as the most likely culprit in causing the inexplicable widespread die-off of major bee populations.

The study, titled “Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema,” was led by Dr Jeffrey Pettis, the head of the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory, and found that bees exposed to minute amounts of the pesticide imidacloprid were three times as likely to develop infections from nosema, a parasitic fungus highly dangerous for honeybees. The recent findings have led to calls to ban the use of neonicotinoids—insecticides containing imidacloprid—by leading insect conservation organizations and advocacy groups.

Bayer CropScience is a division of the German chemical company, Bayer AG, and was formerly Aventis CropScience before being acquired by Bayer in 2002. Among its portfolio of imidacloprid pesticides are the brands:  Amigo®, Blindage®, CropStar®, Gaucho®,  Prestige® and Zorro®.

A recent study conducted by San Francisco State University named a parasitic fly (Apocephalus borealis) as another possible cause of colony collapse disorder as the flies make the bees disoriented, eventually killing them.

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Image: orangeacid