Harvard Scientists’ Discovery Could Save The World

The discoveries made by Harvard scientists could save the world, but only if action is taken to correct the problems studied. If honeybees die, the human race will likely soon follow. The pollinators, which provide the means for 70 percent of the food we eat to grow, have been abandoning their hives and becoming so lethargic that they do not have the energy to eat. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has become a worldwide problem. Honeybees have been dying off in record numbers since 2005.

Harvard scientists have reportedly traced the honeybees demise to the most widely used chemical insecticide ingredient. Approximately half of the bee colonies which had been exposed to neonicotiniods died. None of the bee colonies which were not exposed to chemicals and monitored during the study lost any bees. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready and similar biotech products have long been blamed for the death spiral of honeybees.

Chemical insecticides used in both the agriculture industry and in backyards across America typically contain neonicotinoids. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have long claimed that insecticides containing neonicotinoids are safe, but the Harvard study reportedly found otherwise. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the federal agencies which govern the safety of our food supply and environment boast former Monsanto officials and attorneys in key decision-making positions.

European scientist John Bryden had this to say about the important role honeybees play in our lives:

“One in three mouthfuls of our food depend on bee pollination. By understanding the complex way in which colonies fail and die, we’ve made a crucial step in being able to link bee declines to pesticides and other factors, such as habitat loss and disease which can all contribute to colony failure. Exposing bees to pesticides is a bit like adding more and more weight on someone’s shoulders. A person can keep walking normally under a bit of weight, but when it gets too much – they collapse. Similarly, bee colonies can keep growing when bees aren’t too stressed, but if stress levels get too high the colony will eventually fail.”

Harvard School of Public Health expert Chensheng Lu had this to say about the honeybee study:

“We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering ‘colony collapse disorder’ in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter.”

Many countries faced with a drastic loss of honeybees appear to be taking the matter far more seriously than the United States. Last December the European Union voted to ban the use of neonicotinoids for two years. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report maintained that neonicotinoids should be restricted because the chemicals “may affect the developing human nervous system of children.” Concern over the negative impact on the food supply as the honeybee population continues to dwindle is valid, since three-quarters of the crops in the world require pollination to grow.

The Harvard honeybee study was published in the Bulletin of Insectology. The university scientists studied 18 honeybee colonies in three central Massachusetts for about one year. This class of pesticides act as nerve poisons, according to the study. The researchers specifically reviewed how even low doses of neonicotiniods, clothianidin, and imidacloprid impacted healthy honeybee hives over the winter. The results of the monitoring “reinforced the conclusion that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is the likely main culprit for the occurrence of CCD.”

A host of factors other than neonicotiniods have also been widely studied as a possible cause for the disappearance of honeybees. Some of the factors frequently studied include poor nutrition, parasites, disease, and stress brought on by being transported around the nation to pollinate various orchards. A significant number of scientists have subscribed to the theory that any combination of the noted factors when also exposed to chemical pesticides could be causing Colony Collapse Disorder.

The findings of the new Harvard honeybee study state that long-term exposure to even small levels of neonicotinoids was not causing a problem with the immune system of honeybees, or their resistance to pathogens. Instead, the report revealed that bees in hives that were not subjected to neonictinoids had just as many infections as their chemically infused peers. There, the study surmised that the chemical insecticide must be spurring some other type of “biological mechanism” in honeybees that ultimately leads to Colony Collapse Disorder.

The new honeybee study basically replicates a similar experiment Harvard conducted in 2010. During that study, the team of researchers tested just one type of neonicotiniod – imidacloprid. The earlier study revealed a higher rate of overall collapse as 94 percent of all hives subjected to pesticide disappeared. The disparity between the statistics may be due to a colder winter, which both exacerbates the impact of the pesticides and increases stress on the honeybees. The study also noted that the reason honeybees are fleeing their hives during the winter could be related to reduced neurological abilities, cognition, memory, and behavior.

Near the end of the honeybee study, half of the colonies had simply abandoned their hives, one of the primary symptoms of Colony Collapse Disorder. The honeybees that remained inside the hives “weren’t in good shape,” Harvard researchers noted. The clusters of bees which stayed until spring were either very small or lacked developing bees or queen bees.

Do you think neonicotinoids should be been or restricted in the United States?

[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]