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EPA: No Single Cause For Colony Collapse Disorder 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the couldn't-bee-easy dept.
alphatel writes "Citing a wide range of symptoms, a federal report (PDF) released yesterday has concluded that no single event, pesticide or virus can be held responsible for CCD in North American bee colonies. Meanwhile, Europe has moved towards banning neocotinids for two years. EPA's Jim Jones stated, 'There are non-trivial costs to society if we get this wrong. There are meaningful benefits from these pesticides to farmers and to consumers, as well as for affordable food.' May R. Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a participant in the study, said, 'There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.'"
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EPA: No Single Cause For Colony Collapse Disorder

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  • One hole at a time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @06:31PM (#43625047)

    Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking

    But it is one less hole to worry about.

    • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Friday May 03, 2013 @06:41PM (#43625135)
      No shit...it's obvious that not doing anything at all isn't going to fix the problem. Normally I don't support banning things because they "might" be affecting something else, but under these circumstances I'd say it might be worth some experimenting to see what might *help*. FFS, the more we sit and wait to see what's going on, the fewer bees we have to do their job. I realize other animals pollinate as well, but they don't do it nearly as efficiently as bees...and frankly, I think this problem is much easier to solve than the problem of how to get our fucking food to grow in five years.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You don't even know what you are acting against. Yet you would stop doing what is provably beneficial today to just 'do something'. Sounds like zombie logic.

      • by Steeltoe (98226) on Friday May 03, 2013 @08:00PM (#43625749) Homepage

        Support for your line of thinking:

        Salon: Without honeybees, we may cease to be [salon.com]
        The report concludes, “imidacloprid seems to be a substance particularly ’fit for the precautionary principle’.” It cites the chemicals’ ability to harm honeybees and wild bees at minute doses and its persistence in the soil for several years. Additionally, it notes that after Italy temporarily banned neonicotinoids in several crops, reports of high honeybee mortality decreased from 185 to two.

        The line of thinking to keep doing harm without testing wether bans might work, for short term profit, is frankly both suicidal unscientific.
        Doing harm in the name of profit is evil.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No shit...it's obvious that not doing anything at all isn't going to fix the problem.

        Yeah, the battle cry of clueless managers!

        1. We must do something
        2. Here is something
        3. Let's do it!

        You must also think that Carly did a great job as a CEO, at least she DID something!

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          No shit...it's obvious that not doing anything at all isn't going to fix the problem.

          Yeah, the battle cry of clueless managers!

          1. We must do something
          2. Here is something
          3. Let's do it!

          You must also think that Carly did a great job as a CEO, at least she DID something!

          "Doing something" also can include "doing a helluva lot of science and research to figure out our options.

          Like what the EU has done - as an experiment. If there are many factors, why not test each one to see which has greatest impact?

          Right now

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention, with every hole you patch, the rate that the boat is sinking at will decrease, giving you time to search for more holes and/or duct tape.

    • by mark-t (151149)

      AC gets it in one.

      That it might be more expensive is moot.... more expensive food is still more desirable than no food at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps (1157495)

        I know you live in your own little life and have very little appreciation to what it's like in other parts of the country or the world. But to many people, more expensive food is the same as no food at all.

        • by denzacar (181829) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:47PM (#43625637) Journal

          what it's like in other parts of the country or the world. But to many people, more expensive food is the same as no food at all.

          Fortunately, EU countries where neocotinids have been temporarily banned, tend not to be among such countries. [bbc.co.uk]
          No, not even Greece. [bbc.co.uk]

        • by mark-t (151149)

          Only when people who are better off aren't willing to share.

          Wanting those who might be able to afford to help the less fortunate also starve to death because the world's actually run out of useful food altogether doesn't help.

        • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:53PM (#43625703)
          We're talking very marginally more expensive food if we ban a class of insecticides, as opposed to much more expensive food if crops fail because they were not pollinated. Soybeans, despite what you're read, will not be much affected by bee loss. They self-pollinate.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          While in your little life, you can justify releasing toxins in our food- and water-source, causing mass-extinctions and making people sick, to get cheaper and less nutritional food?

        • Your "logic" is flawed. No food means EVERYONE goes hungry, and the hungriest will die. Expensive food means that more people will go hungry, and only some of the hungriest will die.

          Plentiful resources is desirable, of course.
          Limited resources is undesirable. Again, of course.
          No resources is a circumstance that ensures that people do not survive.

          Take your pick.

        • by Velex (120469)

          Who are they?

          Srsly, I once dated a guy who had food stamps. It was quite the nice budget. It made me wonder what a sucker I was when I was younger scraping by on ramen and working a job.

    • Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking

      But it is one less hole to worry about.

      True, but if it costs you $billions to patch that hole and you save no colonies due to the many other factors, that's $billions wasted. I don't think the original quote was suggesting that we do nothing, but that we be highly selective about which holes we attempt to patch.

      There's a great tendency with situations like this to feel that we need to do something, randomly pick something, do it, then feel good about yourself for having done something regardless of whether you've lessened the severity of the sit

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In the history of mankind, it has never been a BAD idea to ban a pesticide.

        Maybe this ban will not save the bees, but it will help humanity in the long term.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by khallow (566160)

          In the history of mankind, it has never been a BAD idea to ban a pesticide.

          The obvious counterexample is DDT. It got banned and as a result malaria wasn't eradicated. This link claims 50 million lives lost [discoverthenetworks.org] due to the ban since the 70s.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @08:27PM (#43625901)

            You're suggesting that the only way we will ever stop malaria is to poison mosquitoes into extinction?

            That's very short term thinking.

            50 million lives were lost because they weren't "rich enough" to deserve our health care or research funding. It's as simple as that.

            • Can't we do both? Save the bees and erradicate the mosquitos!
            • by khallow (566160)

              You're suggesting that the only way we will ever stop malaria is to poison mosquitoes into extinction?

              It works.

              50 million lives were lost because they weren't "rich enough" to deserve our health care or research funding. It's as simple as that.

              Nonsense. The developed world doesn't have malaria now because they drove it to extinction in the wild via DDT and similar pesticides.

              • by dryeo (100693) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:27AM (#43627305)

                You're suggesting that the only way we will ever stop malaria is to poison mosquitoes into extinction?

                It works.

                No it doesn't (exception being smallpox) as almost always a resistant strain develops

                50 million lives were lost because they weren't "rich enough" to deserve our health care or research funding. It's as simple as that.

                Nonsense. The developed world doesn't have malaria now because they drove it to extinction in the wild via DDT and similar pesticides.

                Actually the important thing was mechanical. Draining swamps is very effective to control mosquitoes along with judicious usage of pesticides, ideally a variety to prevent immune strains.

                • Draining swamps is very effective to control mosquitoes along with...

                  In the US it's now illegal to drain swamps, because they're "wetlands" that must be preserved. Another victory for environmentalists over human beings.

                  • by dryeo (100693)

                    How many swamps are infected with malaria carrying mosquitoes in the USA?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            But we still have birds.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            and as a result malaria wasn't eradicated

            And neither were Bluebirds, the Bald Eagle, or many other Avians affected by DDT-caused Eggshell thinning.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT#Environmental_impact [wikipedia.org]

          • by dryeo (100693) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:17AM (#43627269)

            Not this bullshit again. DDT was never banned for malaria prevention, just every other use and is still used for indoor treatment for malaria carrying mosquitoes though I doubt they make wallpaper out of it any more. Pesticides are like anti-biotics, use them only when needed as immunity is built up in the target population which is one of the main reasons that DDT isn't used as much for malaria prevention, just as penicillin isn't used much anymore for infections.
            The Stockholm convention banned DDT for all uses except malaria carrying mosquito control though they did discourage it. Currently the World Health Organization does encourage using DDT for indoor use to control mosquitoes in malaria infected areas. Press release, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr50/en/ [who.int]
            And staying on topic, I had a pesticide application ticket many years ago. It was stressed to only use pesticides as a last resort, to use what was effective, and no more and one of the main dangers was how sensitive bees were to insecticides compared to most insects. Fish were also very sensitive to some insecticides and herbicides so you'd have chemicals with a low LD50 yet a high LC50 level. Toxicity can be very complex.

          • by khallow (566160)
            Eh, this turned out to be a rather weak example. Several large flaws with my assertion are: the areas where malaria is currently present are far harder to treat both due to the presence of malaria in non-human animals and because these societies tend to be dysfunctional; DDT is actually still used for malaria eradication - though it is more expensive than if it were produced in 60s volume; but if the heavy use of the 60s had continued, mosquitoes would have evolved DDT resistance; I read of numerous alterna
      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday May 03, 2013 @08:38PM (#43625951) Homepage Journal

        Consider the facts surrounding this insecticide.

        First - it is DESIGNED to kill insects. That is it's purpose.
        Second - it was approved for use based on flawed research, conducted in Canada only, in an area that had no honey bee populations to be affected. Private research, conducted by Bayer - research that should never have been admitted as "science".
        Third - the colony collapses happen most frequently in areas that use this specific insecticide.
        Fourth - there is data that supports the ban - Steeltoe posted a link above: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/21/without_honeybees_we_may_cease_to_be/ [salon.com]

            "Additionally, it notes that after Italy temporarily banned neonicotinoids in several crops, reports of high honeybee mortality decreased from 185 to two."

        • I don't really want to get into a debate about whether it is or is not a good idea to ban any particular insecticide. Frankly, I'm not qualified to argue either side of such a debate.

          This is exactly why I do think it makes sense to listen to the experts hired by the U.S. government to study the issue. It appears the experts feel that banning one class of pesticide won't solve the problem. Unless you think they were all paid off by Bayer or aren't really scientists or are maybe all Canadian, there would seem

          • Please note - the location of the "study" being in Canada has nothing to do with the Canadians. It was a flawed study, performed by Bayer. Canadians didn't do the study, didn't approve of the study, didn't participate in any way.

            All in all, Canadians seem to be better at regulating business than the US.

          • by Velex (120469)

            Oh wow. Excellent troll, sir. Appeal to authority and the whole nine yards.

            *rummages around*

            I know I've got some mod points around here somewhere.

            but srsly

            Unless you think they were all paid off by Bayer...

            That's EXACTLY what we're suspecting.

    • That reminds me of some sitcom or cartoon where the characters are lost in the desert and their only food supply catches fire, so they dump their canteen of water on it to put it out. Knee-Jerk reactions rarely work out for the best.

    • by khallow (566160)

      But it is one less hole to worry about.

      Unless in the process you punch several more holes. Now, I get your point, but I find it interesting that even the EPA is cautioning against just "plugging holes" without evaluating whether that's worth the cost or not.

    • by sl3xd (111641)

      It's difficult to really read all of the meaning here. One less hole can be worse than nothing with our congressional circus.

      Give the scientists some benefit of the doubt: They are not only aware of the scientific issues involved, but of the political minefield any change must charge through. Trying to focus all efforts on one issue (banning an insecticide) is relatively simple.

      Even if you got an insecticide ban through, these scientists apparently don't feel it's enough. Banning the insecticide first, and

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday May 03, 2013 @06:37PM (#43625097)
    This would have gotten a lot better play on Slashdot if Monsanto had played a larger and more definitive role in the CCD....
  • Jim Jones? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ultra64 (318705) on Friday May 03, 2013 @06:40PM (#43625121)

    As if anyone is going to listen to him again.

  • by slew (2918) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:02PM (#43625283)

    News at 11...

  • I told the bees that they needed to contribute to both parties if they wanted a voice in these matters.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:09PM (#43625319)

    'There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.'

    Patching zero holes also won't keep it from sinking, and, indeed, is pretty much guaranteed to do less to delay the sinking than patching one hole.

    • Yes, but patching the smallest hole in the boat with your marine radio instead of using it to call for help wouldn't be wise either. His point was that you need to think before you act, and he's right.

  • Sink the boat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fox171171 (1425329) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:10PM (#43625329)
    There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.

    Yes, much better not to patch any holes at all, and let the boat sink, than to risk patching a hole that wasn't leaking. Hell, maybe we should drill a few more holes, just to be sure.

    There are meaningful benefits from these pesticides to farmers and to consumers, as well as for affordable food.

    There are meaningful benefits from these bees to farmers and to consumers, as well as for affordable food.'

    There, fixed that for you.

    I think it would be better to be condemned for doing something and failing, than to be be damned for standing back and watching it happen.
    • "Do something, right or wrong."

      That was one of my Dad's favorite witticisms, so yeah, he would agree with you.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:16PM (#43625381)

    'There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.'"

    Hello, nirvana fallacy.

    For those who aren't familiar, the basic explanation of the nirvana fallacy is rejecting a solution because it isn't perfect/ideal. In this case: rejecting a ban on the pesticide because there are other additional causes of colony collapse disorder that wouldn't be affected by such a ban.

    Idiotic, and amazing that a scientist could utter it.

    • You're conflating two different things, no doubt due to the confusing nature of the post. The quote about patching holes was from a participant in the study that looked at a wide range of factors, including pesticides and viruses, and concluded there was no single culprit.

      In the midst of this the OP mentions Europe banning "neocotinids" [sic] for two years. This has nothing whatever to do with the study mentioned or the quote from the study participant. So the patching holes quote isn't suggesting we should

      • by Anonymous Coward

        nah but I agree - these articles aren't written by accident - they're is an agenda, and the agenda is on the side of the supply and production chain, and this organization is for pesticides because it is yet another product that goes into the supply and production chain. There logic isn't sensible from the standpoint of survival of the whole, just of their particular organization. It's .. corrupt and sick.

    • What they should have said is that there is no particular evidence supporting the model that the neocotinid pesticides are at all relevant to colony collapse disorder in North America.
      • by hawkingradiation (1526209) on Friday May 03, 2013 @10:11PM (#43626491)
        It kind of occurs to me that they would most likely say that there is no evidence if there was none. Since they didn't say there was no evidence, I suppose there is some. I would also point out that there is an active lawsuit [panna.org] (first google hit) going against the EPA and possibly this is the reason for the article. I also read that there was at least one paper on the cause of colony collapse disorder. Don't know if they/it can be found on Google Scholar here [google.ca]. Bayer crop science is the villan for promoting the use of this. Anyway you look at it, the disappearance of bees may be good for selling one particular seed, but in general very, very bad for the rest of nature and most other agricultural industries too. Think of how Biologist Jonas Salk said: "If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”. This does not mean that all humans have to disappear in order for life to survive however. I would prefer a balance.
  • Did anyone else have to read this a few times thinking it said colon collapse disorder?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they at least banned one type of pesticide but got it wrong, we would have noticed it in a year or two. As it is now, we can't even trial and error a way out of this...

    captcha: reactive

  • The report seems to be from the USDA, not the EPA. There are some contributors from the EPA though.

  • To quote House, Bullshit, there's a cause for everthing; you just haven't figured it out, yet.

  • ...a result of our failure to make timely sacrifices to the Wicker Man

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Note the disclaimer on page 3. Not the policies or positions of the USDA, EPA or USG.

    It is also interesting to see who was on the different work group.

      Lots of academia

    CropLife America (used to be The Agricultural Insecticide and Fungicide Association).
    Bayer
    Monsanta - directly and indirectly (CropLife)
    DuPont

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @08:24PM (#43625885)

    A little background info for aspiring entomologists. Neonicotinoids are an interesting class of insecticides. They are valued because they have relatively low mammalian toxicity but they are very effective against insects. Neonics are systemic insecticides, i.e., they get inside plants and are distributed into all plant tissues. Neonicotinoid residues found in pollen and nectar are consumed by flower-visiting insects such as bees. Concentrations of residues can reach lethal levels in some situations. Neonicotinoids can persist in soil for months or years after a single application. After plants absorb neonicotinoids, they slowly metabolize the compounds. Some of the breakdown products are as toxic or more toxic to honey bees than the original active ingredient. Honey bees exposed to sublethal levels of neonicotinoids can experience problems with flying and navigation, reduced taste sensitivity, and slower learning of new tasks, which all impact foraging ability. Keep in mind that neonicotinoids were on the market for about 10 years before colony collapse disorder was noticed.

    • by dryeo (100693)

      A little background info for aspiring entomologists. Neonicotinoids are an interesting class of insecticides. They are valued because they have relatively low mammalian toxicity but they are very effective against insects. Neonics are systemic insecticides, i.e., they get inside plants and are distributed into all plant tissues. Neonicotinoid residues found in pollen and nectar are consumed by flower-visiting insects such as bees. Concentrations of residues can reach lethal levels in some situations. Neonicotinoids can persist in soil for months or years after a single application. After plants absorb neonicotinoids, they slowly metabolize the compounds. Some of the breakdown products are as toxic or more toxic to honey bees than the original active ingredient. Honey bees exposed to sublethal levels of neonicotinoids can experience problems with flying and navigation, reduced taste sensitivity, and slower learning of new tasks, which all impact foraging ability. Keep in mind that neonicotinoids were on the market for about 10 years before colony collapse disorder was noticed.

      Very interesting and I'd mod up if I hadn't already posted.
      The other questions. How destructive are the insects that the neonicotinoids are controlling? How effective are the alternatives? Is this just maximizing huge profits or make or break scenario? I'm not knowledgeable on this subject.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Just a general observation, pesticides generally work on a range of insects. Killing off the insects is probably not a wise idea given they are near the base of the food chain for many mammals.

  • Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking

    So, we should not patch a hole in a sinking boat? That's so absurd only Congress would fall for it. WTF are you proposing we do, swim?

  • corn syrup? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Friday May 03, 2013 @09:29PM (#43626217)
    Read an article recently that said they have evidence to suggest that feeding bees corn syrup to replace the honey that they would normally eat weakens their immune system because the honey contains all sorts of good biological things that are remnants from the plants they harvest the nectar from. Instead, we steal their honey and feed them factory produced high fructose corn syrup. Pesticides, insecticides, corn syrup.. It's no wonder they're dying....
    • Read an article recently that said they have evidence to suggest that feeding bees corn syrup to replace the honey that they would normally eat weakens their immune system because the honey contains all sorts of good biological things that are remnants from the plants they harvest the nectar from. Instead, we steal their honey and feed them factory produced high fructose corn syrup. Pesticides, insecticides, corn syrup.. It's no wonder they're dying....

      I have no reference to show for it but I read an article last year where there was DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE (someone did a study somewhere) that "feeding bees corn syrup" was most likely one of the factors contributing to CCD.

      Again, this news was shouted down with "well if you can't prove that it absolutely in all cases leads CCD then we're not gonna change our practices".

  • by devent (1627873) on Friday May 03, 2013 @09:35PM (#43626241) Homepage

    I really like how this really shows the difference between policy making in the US and the EU:
    EU: maybe those pesticides are really hurting the bees, so we going to ban them for 2 years and see if it's help.
    US: there are many stuff that hurts bees, but behind the pesticides are big cooperations so we rather do nothing.

    "non-trivial costs to society" meaning the big cooperation don't like to take the hit on profits if there is a ban.

  • Says the bought dogs of Monsanto and DuPont.
    • by bussdriver (620565) on Friday May 03, 2013 @11:44PM (#43626947)

      Big Tobacco delayed progress with FUD for decades but where they finally tripped up is that they didn't fund research into other causes of lung cancer. By conflating the whole issue with tons of information about contributing factors and flat out admitting they were a contributing factor they could continue to this day!

      If you ever came in contact with Asbestos, ate poorly, lived in a polluted city, failed to get X minutes of aerobic exercise and then smoked... (I'd love the aerobic part since smokers tend to hate aerobic exercise; I'm sure their stats would be low on that "contributing factor")

    • by dryeo (100693)

      Wrong. This is the bought dogs of Bayer for a change.

  • Oh, well, there's so many holes in this boat, and patching one of 'em takes, you know, effort -- Well, a different kind of effort than I'm used to anyway. So, I think we should just try spending all our time bailing more water -- It won't keep us from sinking eventually, but, I mean, I'm a card carrying member of the water bailer's union, and the Bucket Supply Store gives me a percentage of the sales on referrals... Meh, I'll probably be dead before the boat sinks, so, yeah. Screw the boat, just bail faster!

  • A Pesticide? C'mon, that would just be ridiculous. It must be from feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup. Which probably contains....
    Corn treated with pesticides that contain neonicotinoids. Bayer is going to weasel it's way out of this in typical US corporate fashion.

  • 'There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.' - May B. Berenbaum So lets all just sit around and do nothing; because that's really gonna fix the problem! Start plugging the holes; one at a time if necessary; ultimately they'll all get plugged. In the meantime you slow the rate of destruction. Allowing the Bees to just die is the most ridiculous approach I have heard. The EPA needs to plugging the holes right now and keep the pesticide indus

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