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Fungicides implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New research suggests that fungicides are partly responsible for the loss of bees across the United States and other parts of the world. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), its causes have been a mystery until just recently.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In the last six years, bees have been dying en masse, leaving beekeepers distraught and farmers paying higher prices for pollination. This has driven food prices up. A considerable effort to study CCD has been undertaken in that time and studies suggest that the cocktail of pesticides used by farmers is probably responsible.

At various times, blame has been placed on climate change, habitat destruction, parasites, and pesticides. The latter two seem to be the culprits behind CCD.

Farmers know better than to spray pesticides at times when pollinating bees are present, but no such warning has been made for fungicides, which have long been regarded as safe for bees. New research, published in the science journal, PLOS One, suggests that fungicide may be a significant contributor to CCD.

Scientists collected pollen from hives to determine what pesticides the bees were being exposed to. Studies of the pollen found at least 35 different chemicals were present in the hives with fungicide loads being high.

They then fed contaminated pollen to bees, to ascertain what impact the contaminates would have. They learned that when exposed to fungicides, bees were two to three times more likely to become infected with a parasite, called Nosema if they ingested the fungicide-laced pollen.

Other recent studies have implicated pesticides known as neonicotinoids in CCD.

The results suggest that the issue is complicated, but it is the veritable cocktail of pesticides mixed with parasites that is causing bee populations to dwindle. If we are to save our bees, and crops, we may have to find another way to protect our crops from insects, or develop new compounds or methods of pesticide delivery.

Stopping the use of pesticides is an unlikely solution since insects can decimate unprotected crops within a short span of time.

No matter what happens, the costs associated with food is likely to increase since the status quo in untenable.

Researchers are calling for further study to confirm their conclusions and to develop workable solutions to the problem.

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