Sunday 2 September 2018

le syndrome d’effondrement des colonies d’abeilles

France has announced a ban—restrictions that go above what the European Union has deemed allowable, permitting the use of some members of this class of pesticides for greenhouse farming only where cross-contamination is less likely—on all neonicontinoids, long suspected of being a contributing factor to colony collapse disorder and the general loss of insect life that plays a vital role in maintaining the food chain. This class of pesticides were introduced in the 1990s as a less toxic alternative to existing products on the market, and structured on the nicotine molecule, the companies pitched their new formulations as safer and targeted without lingering in the environment.
Not quite able to pinpoint the lethal mechanism, the pathology, the industry invoked other factors like cell phone signals, monoculturing and noxious automotive emissions—which cannot be ruled out—but also possibly served as a cover and distraction for the real dangers of this substance. Researchers have now taken a nuanced, holistic approach to their field studies and suspect that they may have been overlooking the addictive property that these chemicals have for insect neurology and behaviour, making the bees exposed to it chemically dependent on the substance and thus overriding the instincts of the individual and the hive to make good choices about where to forage and how to defend the hive. It’s like Drone Dad that flew off to get a pack of cigarettes and never returned. If science is only getting wise to this consequence in bees, just imagine how disruptive introducing an addictive substance could be for less-studied bug lif, even when they are considered pests.  I hope other places follow France’s lead and not enter into large-scale experiments prematurely and uninformed.