[permaculture] [Fwd: [SANET-MG] pesticide ban to save the honey bee]

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Mon Jun 9 09:41:27 EDT 2008

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [SANET-MG] pesticide ban to save the honey bee
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2008 08:13:47 -0400
From: jcummins <jcummins at UWO.CA>

ISIS Press Release 09/06/08
Emergency Pesticide Ban for Saving the Honeybee

Prof. Joe Cummins’ warning against neonicotinoid pesticides in the
killing of honeybees was dramatically confirmed, resulting in swift
action on the part of the German Government. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Germany’s emergency ban

The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL)
suspended the registration of eight neonicotinoid pesticide seed
treatment products used in oilseed rape and sweetcorn. a few weeks
after honeybee keepers in the southern state of Baden Württemberg
reported a wave of honeybee deaths linked to one of the pesticides,
clothianidin [1, 2]. Prof. Joe Cummins had warned specifically against
this class of new pesticides [3] (Requiem for the Honeybee, SiS 34),
widely used in dressing seeds and in sprays, and “highly toxic to
insects including bees at very low concentrations.”  His contribution
to ISIS’ Briefing in the European Parliament in June 2007 [4]
(Scientists and MEPs for a GM free Europe, SiS 35) drew attention to
the danger of sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoids and Bt biopesticides
in GM crops, which could act synergistically with pathogenic fungi in
causing Colony Collapse Disorder in the honeybee, and resulted in a
question to the European Commission by German MEP Hiltrud Breyer [5]
(Emergency Motion on Protecting the Honeybee, SiS 35), shortly after
she has submitted an emergency motion to ban the neonicotinoids.
Unequivocal evidence of pesticide poisoning

Walter Haefeker, president of the European Professional Beekeepers
Association, reporting to Chemical and Engineering News said [1],
“Beekeepers in the region started finding piles of dead bees at the
entrance of hives in early May, right around the time corn seeding
takes place.”

It's a real bee emergency,” said Manfred Hederer, president of the
German Professional Beekeepers' Association told The Guardian [2],
“50-60 percent of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers
have lost all their hives.”

The incriminating evidence was so convincing that a press release from
the Julius Kuehn Institute (JKI), the German federal agricultural
research agency, stated: “It can unequivocally be concluded that a
poisoning of the bees is due to the rub-off of the pesticide
ingredient clothianidin from the corn seeds.”

Tests on dead bees showed that 99 percent had a build-up of
clothianidin.(sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho) produced by
Bayer CropScience,  approved for use in Germany in 2004, and with some
restrictions in the US in 2003.

The pesticide was applied to the seeds in advance of being planted or
sprayed while in the field. The company blamed an application error by
the seed company which failed to use a substance that glues the
pesticide to the seed, resulting in the chemical getting into the air.
Bayer spokesman Dr Julian Little told the BBC Farming Today that
misapplication is highly unusual. It transpired that this year’s corn
seed in Baden Württemberg was coated with a double dose to counteract
a corn beetle infestation [2]. Unusual circumstances yes, but the
lethal effect of the pesticides has been suspected for a long time.

Beekeepers had pointed the finger for a long time

According to the report in The Guardian [1], a group of beekeepers
from North Dakota in the United States is taking Bayer CropScience to
court after losing thousands of honeybee colonies in 1995, during a
period when oilseed rape in the area was treated with imidacloprid. A
third of honeybees were killed by what has since been dubbed colony
collapse disorder.

Imidacloprid is Bayer’s best-selling pesticide sold under the name
Gaucho in France, but has been banned as a seed dressing for
sunflowers in that country since 1999, when a third of French
honeybees died following its widespread use; the ban on its use in
sweetcorn was imposed five years later. A few months ago, the
company’s application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.

Bayer has always maintained that imidacloprid is safe for bees if
correctly applied. “Extensive internal and international scientific
studies have confirmed that Gaucho does not present a hazard to bees,”
said Utz Klages, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience. Last year,

Germany’s Green MEP, Hiltrud Breyer tabled an emergency motion calling
for this family of pesticides to be banned across Europe while their
role in killing honeybees is thoroughly investigated. Her action
follows calls for a ban from beekeeping associations and environmental
organisations across Europe.

As Cummins pointed out [3], these pesticides are nerve poisons and
inhibit the brain enzyme acetylcholine esterase. Sub-lethal levels of
the pesticide which fails to kill the bee will nevertheless impair its
ability to return to the hive. Furthermore, these and other pesticides
also impair the bee’s immune system, leaving it much more susceptible
to attacks by parasitic fungi and other disease agents [6, 7]
(Parasitic Fungi and Pesticides Act Synergistically to Kill Honeybees?
SiS 35, Mystery of Disappearing Honeybees, SiS 34).

    1. “Pesticides: Germany bans chemicals linked to honeybee
devastation”, Allison Benjamin, guardian.co.uk, Friday May 23 2008
    2. “Honeybee Loss”, Sarah Everts, C&EN, Chemical and Engineering
News 21 May 2008.
    3. Cummins J. Requiem for the honeybee. Science in Society 34,
37-38, 2007.
    4. Burcher S. and Ho MW. Scientists and MEPs for a GM free Europe.
Science in Society 35, 20-25, 2007.
    5. Hiltrud B. Collapse of honeybee colonies worldwide. Written
Question to the European Commission Science in Society 35, 39 2007.
    6. Cummins J. Parasitic fungi and pesticides act synergistically
to kill honeybees?  Science in Society 35, 38 2007.
    7. Ho MW and Cummins J. Mystery of disappearing honeybees. Science
in Society 34, 35-36. 2007.

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