Canadian beekeepers in Elmwood, Ontario, have lost upwards of 37 million bees just weeks after GMO corn was planted nearby.

The massive die-off represents a mere fraction of those that have been lost since the mysterious colony collapse disorder, or CCD, began affecting bees all over the world.

Recently, the European Union has enacted a two year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids, insecticides thought to be responsible for the bee deaths, and frequently used on crops of GMO corn and other commodities. An international team of scientists led by Holland’s Utrecht University concluded that, ”Large scale prophylactic use in agriculture, their high persistence in soil and water, and their uptake by plants and translocation to flowers, neonicotinoids put pollinator services at risk,” which was one of the major contributors to the EU ban.

However, the neonicotinoids are still approved and legal in Canada and the U.S.

“Once the [GMO] corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” Dave Schuit, a local beekeeper in Elmwood said. He has lost a total of 600 hives so far. Another local farmer lost eight out of 10 hives on his land.

According to studies conducted by Purdue University, “Bees exhibited neurotoxic symptoms, analysis of dead bees revealed traces of thiamethoxam/clothianidin in each case. Seed treatments of field crops (primarily corn) are the only major source of these compounds.”

Other studies, however, have suggested that the causes of CCD may be more complex, involving a combination of pesticides, parasites, and even poor nutrition. Colony collapse disorder has killed off more than 10 million hives in North America alone since 2007.

Bees are the primary pollinators of more than a third of our food crops. In China, the massive decline in bees has forced farmers to employ workers by the hundreds to hand-pollinate apple and pear trees.

Photo Credit: dsevilla via Compfight cc

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