Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon of laying the blame for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) on modern agriculture and transgenic food, lets look at some recent research on the issue. From the University of Ilinois Extension service I found a great commentary on the likelihood of the much used Gaucho (imidacloprid) product being the culprit.
“However, even though imidacloprid is systemic and moves through the plant, it is known to not get into the flowers of a number of plants. With bees primarily visiting flowers, there are questions as to how the bees would pick up the imidacloprid. Another question is when the honey bees pick up the imidacloprid. Many imidacloprid-treated crops finish flowering by midsummer, allowing time for seed or fruit to be produced and ripen before frost. Honey bees tend to feed in late summer and fall on late-season flowers such as goldenrod and native asters. These plants tend to be most numerous in noncrop areas where insecticides are unlikely to be applied. If the bees died earlier in the season from visiting flowering crops, beekeepers surely would have noticed this when they collected honey from the hives.”
If you recall the refuted study that came from Cornell Univeristy a few years ago you will remember Bt genetics have already been prematurely blamed for killing monarch butterfly. Now some are suspecting that Bt corn is the culprit in CDD. Let’s see what the experts from the University of Maryland have to say:
“The endotoxins currently expressed in Bt corn (Cry1 types against caterpillars; Cry3 types against beetles) are not biologically active against hymenopteran insects such as the honey bee, nor do the CCD symptoms resemble those expected in Bt intoxicated organisms. Exposure is also very low because the expression of endotoxins in pollen is barely detectable in most Bt corn hybrids and corn does not produce nectar. For these reasons, bees are not commonly found foraging in corn fields.’
Note, imidacloprid is one of the safest products introduced in decades. To restrict its use would either mean a switch to more lethal chemistries or organic methods that also may have questionable effects on the environment- recall organic producers broadcast the Bt toxin over their crops and kill all insects whether they are pests or not. The environmental benefits from Bt genetics are numerous as indicated in many of my previous entries. Restricting its use would be detrimental to the environment and public health as well. Let’s get to the bottom of CCD instead of trying to push an anti biotech or anti-agricultural agenda.
SOURCES:Illinois Pesticide Review, http://www.pesticidesafety.uiuc.edu/newsletter/newsletter.htmlGALEN P. DIVELY.Extension Pest Management Specialist, University of Maryland http://www.americanfarm.com/TopStory5.01.07f.html