Insecticide linked to colony collapse; Will Congress take action?

Insecticide linked to colony collapse; Will Congress take action?


A team of scientists say that the widespread death of bees across the nation is likely linked to insecticide.

New research shows a link between an increase in the death of bees and insecticides, specifically the chemicals used to coat corn seeds, according to a report released late this week.

The study, titled “Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds,” was published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology journal. The study provides insight into colony collapse disorder, and may pressure lawmakers to consider increased regulation of the chemicals.

Researchers from the University of Padua in Italy published the study, noting that springtime die-offs of the honeybee are likely linked to technology used to plant corn coated with insecticides. Pneumatic drilling machines pull corn seeds in and spray them with the insecticide to create a coating before they are planted in the ground.

The technology, the effects of which are long documented, is used to to plant seeds with so-called neonicotinoid insecticides. The process has reportedly resulted in widespread deaths of honeybees, which have been reported since the introduction of the technique in the late 1990s, say scientists.

Colony collapse disorder, or the mass die-off of honeybees, has stumped researchers for months. Massive and widespread die-offs of colonies left researchers considering a number of possible causes, among which included the increased use of pesticides.

The report comes nearly a year after congressional lawmakers rallied behind the beleaguered honeybee by creating a congressional caucus to promote research and focus attention on the troubling collapse of bee colonies. The new caucus is similar to dozens of other congressional caucuses that cover topics from wine and shellfish to minor league baseball and multiple sclerosis. Caucus members stay in touch, show their concern and co-sponsor legislation, said lawmakers at the time.

The Pollinator Protection Caucus currently claims 11 members, including Reps. Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat, Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, and Henry Brown, a South Carolina Republican. The members of the caucus represent the states that have been the most acutely afflicted by colony loss.