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Earth Science

Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Pesticide, High-Fructose Corn Syrup 398

Posted by timothy
from the eat-your-vegetables-honey dept.
hondo77 writes "Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health '...have re-created the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder in several honeybee hives simply by giving them small doses of a popular pesticide, imidacloprid.' This follows recently-reported studies also linked the disorder to neonicotinoid pesticides. What is really interesting is the link to when the disorder started appearing, 2006. 'That mechanism? High-fructose corn syrup. Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees, which the researchers say did not imperil bees until U.S. corn began to be sprayed with imidacloprid in 2004-2005. A year later was the first outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder.'"
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Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Pesticide, High-Fructose Corn Syrup

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  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @11:34AM (#39607029) Journal
    While the pesticide stuff is pretty obvious, I'm more skeptical about the HFCS link, especially if they're claiming its Monstanto GMO corn causing it. Or something silly. Yes, sugar is a poison, and HFCS is vile, but it's going to take another few studies to convince me.
  • Re:Tangential Jab (Score:0, Interesting)

    by mozumder (178398) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @11:41AM (#39607077)

    I get the feeling including HFCS so prominently in the story is more about triggering an emotional response in readers.

    And?

    Isn't it the job of an editor to trigger an emotional response in a reader, in order to increase viewership?

    Or should commercial media outlets reduce their viewership?

    Remember, this website isn't academia.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @12:02PM (#39607253) Journal
    It's not a problem of Monsanto corn, or even corn. The problem is the pesticide, not the corn.

    The pesticide is transferred to the bees via corn. Corn without the pesticide is fine. Apparently bees are extremely sensitive to this particular pesticide. Apparently bees are extremely sensitive to this stuff. It only takes 20 parts per billion to kill the colony within six months.

    To put that in perspective, arsenic is allowed in drinking water at a level of 10 ppb. Cyanide is allowed at 200 ppb.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @12:34PM (#39607437) Homepage Journal

    If you want to blame Big Agriculture, the culprit this time is Bayer, not Monsanto. They're the ones who make imidacloprid. There are plenty of other things to lay at Monsanto's feet without having to point the finger at them this time.

  • by sycodon (149926) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:01PM (#39607617)

    But parasites [npr.org] can't be pinned on Humans so it's no worth mentioning.

  • by icebike (68054) * on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:16PM (#39607733)

    And even more interesting, in all three studies the pesticide was intentionally fed to the bees in the sugar water; it wasn't collected by the bees. The Harvard study also points out the bee keepers feed their colonies HFCS, which apparently started containing trace amounts of the pesticide about the time they noticed colony collapse become a problem. Kind of sounds like they need to stop feeding HFCS.

    But was this food grade HFCS?

    Is the FDA on board with pesticide being passed thru at detectable levels in a supposedly simple processed food product?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:21PM (#39607769)

    My immediate questions are, what biochemical mechanism is in place that makes imidacloprid dangerous to bees, and if trace amounts are found in most if not all HFCS, is there any consumption concern for humans who eat food with HFCS in it? HFCS that has trace levels of imidacloprid in it.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:12PM (#39608101)
    The same pesticide IS in every food you eat. Not because of HFCS, which doesn't contain that much (except if you're an insect), but because they spray the same pesticide on everything. There is 50-1000 PPB in your fresh greens, 10-40 PPB in your mashed potatoes, 0.0004 in your tap water (averaged over the USA, as high as 0.01 BBP in farm lands, and 0.1 from well water in farm land). When you buy organic, the levels are still only lower, not gone. It persists in the ground for years upon years. But don't worry, they've tested the LD50 so they know how much it takes to kill a person instantly, and presumably anything not instantly fatal is harmless. Sure, it causes birth defects in rats, but rats aren't people.
  • by IonOtter (629215) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:41PM (#39608265) Homepage

    According to the article, it took more than a month for the bees to show the CCD effects when they were fed trace amounts.

    Also, if the hives are running out of honey in late winter, then the keeper is taking too much honey.

  • by ClintJCL (264898) <[clintjcl+slashdot] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:47PM (#39608303) Homepage Journal
    Arsenic is a poison. Without arsenic you wouldn't be reading this; we need it to live. While you are correct in your assessment of GP, the logic that you used is far, far, far from bulletproof.
  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Saturday April 07, 2012 @03:03PM (#39608411)

    But was this food grade HFCS?

    Is the FDA on board with pesticide being passed thru at detectable levels in a supposedly simple processed food product?

    Welp, farmers are definitely the sort of folks that try to make the best use of anything. "Ah hell, well this batch isn't any good for selling, but I guess I could feed it to the bees..."

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @08:43PM (#39609997)
    The problem is that bee keepers had been feeding bees HFCS for some years before the pesticides (and the increased occurrence of CCD) started showing up int the HFCS, so there was no reason to connect HFCS to the CCD. Looking at the information from this study, it looks like the correct answer is for beekeepers to find a source of HFCS (or some other sugar solution) that guarantees that it does not contain these pesticides. These studies seem to imply that the problem does not occur from the use of these pesticides in agriculture, but from the small amount of pesticide that finds its way into HFCS that beekeepers feed their bees at the end of the winter. If this is correct, it does not require outlawing these pesticides. It just requires beekeepers to be aware of the problem and avoid HFCS that is so contaminated.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @09:02PM (#39610089)
    Current U.S. sugar tariffs go back to the 1930s and have nothing to do with the Castro regime in Cuba. U.S. sugar tariffs are, as they always have been, about protecting U.S. sugar producers. If you look closely, you will find almost no support for sugar tariffs amongst the rank and file conservatives. What you will find is that sugar tariffs have a minimal negative impact on a large number of people so that it is not an important issue for them. However, they have a large positive impact on a small group that very aggressively campaigns to maintain them. This group is well aware that if this issue were to become well publicized, their position would be wildly unpopular, so they maintain a very low profile only allowing it to become high profile when they are in a position to spin the story to be about "American jobs".
    This is an issue that if you want to actually make a difference on, you should avoid trying to make it a left vs right issue because it isn't. There are just as many left wing politicians who have supported the sugar tariffs as there are right wing politicians who have done so.
  • by omfgnosis (963606) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:21AM (#39612503)

    It's also worth remembering -- not that it helps anything now -- that honeybees are not native to the US. We only need them because of our extreme use of pesticide-heavy monoculture. Pesticides obviously kill off native pollinators, but monoculture is just as bad -- when everything for dozens of miles around, for the most part, all blooms at once and then there's virtually nothing for the rest of the year, you can't support most types of pollinator populations.

    While true and (yes) worth remembering—and even with the caveat that you seem to be getting at that we still depend on them whether they're native or not—there's also the matter of the combined dangers of sidelining those other pollinators, so that we may not be able to rely on them even if we get our shit together in terms of food production; and the danger of other pollinators, also part of a complex ecosystem, being subject to the same kinds of stressors and industrial challenges the honeybees suffer. The honeybees serve also as a figurative canary in the coal mine. The quite obvious upshot is that intensive meddling in the name of efficiency or profit might have a profound impact on our survival.

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