Friday, February 18, 2011

Honey bee collateral damage from Clothianidin "poncho" acceptable to EPA

A few months ago a memo leaked from the EPA (not a Wikileak counter to some claims) exposes clothianidin as toxic to honey bees.  Clothianidin produced by Bayer crop sciences as "poncho" is in the  nicotine family of pesticides.   Poncho has been banned in several European countries so far, Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia.  It is used on corn, canola, beets, wheat, sunflowers  and Soy. 

Neonicotinoid family pesticides work by being taken up into the plant and making it poisonous to 'pests" and other insects that happen to be there.  Poncho has been found in the pollen and nectar of plants.

From the label recomendations :
This compound is toxic to birds and mammals. Treated clothianidin seeds exposed on soilsurface may be hazardous to birds and mammals. Cover or collect clothianidin seeds spilledduring loading. This compound is toxic to honey bees.  The persistence of residues and potential residual toxicityof Clothianidin in nectar and pollen suggests the possibility of chronic toxic risk to honey beelarvae and the eventual instability of the hive
And from a PhD entomologist
According to James Frazier, PhD., professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, "Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees; and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern." Dr. Frazier said that the most prudent course of action would be to take the pesticide off the market while the flawed study is being redone.
The EPA knows all the evidence and the toxicity but it still stays on the market.  One has to wonder who is the EPA working for.  No wonder bees are showing much higher losses in big agricultural areas.   Eventually the fall of bee populations will catch up to the point that farmers won't worry so much about increasing yield with chemical pesticides if they don't have pollinators for their crops.

The full EPA memo is here.

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