By F. William Engdahl and cross-posted from New Eastern Outlook
Most will wonder what I mean when I say Bayer AG, the German chemicals and drug company, the same one that just absorbed Monsanto, makes bee contraceptives. This is precisely what a newly-published, peer-reviewed scientific study confirms. Contraceptives for bees are not good for the world, no better than another product invented in the labs of Bayer, namely heroin. Bayer makes a class of insect killers known as neonicotinides. Their free use worldwide threatens bee pollination and the entire food chain.
A study just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), identifies a dramatic reduction in sperm count in bees exposed to two of Bayer AG’s most widely used pesticides—thiamethoxam and clothianidin. They found that those two neonicotinoids, “significantly reduce the reproductive capacity of male honeybees (drones), Apis mellifera. Drones were obtained from colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticides or controls, and subsequently maintained in laboratory cages until they reached sexual maturity…the data clearly showed reduced drone lifespan, as well as reduced sperm viability (percentage living versus dead) and living sperm quantity by 39%.”
The study continues: “Our results demonstrate for the first time that neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect male insect reproductive capacity, and provide a possible mechanistic explanation for managed honeybee queen failure and wild insect pollinator decline… As the primary egg layer and an important source of colony cohesion, the queen is intimately connected to colony performance. Increased reports of queen failure have recently been reported in North America and Europe; however, no studies have so far investigated the role of neonicotinoids and male health to explain this phenomenon.”
They conclude, “For the first time, we have demonstrated that frequently employed neonicotinoid insecticides in agro-ecosystems can elicit important lethal (reduced longevity) and sublethal (reduced sperm viability and living sperm quantity) effects on non-target, beneficial male insects; this may have broad population-level implications… Although recent improvements to regulatory requirements for evaluating the environmental impacts of insecticides have been adopted, none so far directly address the reproduction of beneficial insects.”
EU Reviewing its Ban
In 2012 amid an alarming wave of sudden bee colony collapses across the European Union and growing indications that the new class of chemical pesticide—neonicotinoids—promoted primarily by Bayer AG, was responsible for what the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the advisory board to the EU, called an unacceptable risk, the EU Commissioned banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids for three years. The ban affected thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid. The first two, thiamethoxam and clothianidin were the neonicotinoids tested by the new study.
Now the EU Commission, a new commission, has initiated a review of their ban. The scientists today at EFSA have initiated a review of their 2012 assessment on the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticide use to bee colonies. The review is expected to be completed by January 2017. Bayer and the pesticide industry, including Syngenta, are strongly lobbying for a rollback.
Bayer’s neonicotinoids are widely used across the agriculture regions of North America. Despite the growing evidence that the widely-used pesticides cause bee colony death, the US Government has yet to follow the EU ban. In January the US Environmental Protection Agency published first field trials, some ten years after widespread introduction of neonicotinoids in the US agriculture. Their results showed that imidacloprid, one of the three banned in the EU, can cause beehive populations to fall. Despite this, the US Government has yet to take any cautionary action…