Monsanto’s corn, genetically engineered to produce a synthetic version of the insecticide Bt, has been banned in Poland following protests by beekeepers who showed the corn was killing honeybees. Meanwhile, commercial beekeepers in the U.S. have filed an emergency legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend use of a pesticide that is linked to massive honey bee deaths. The legal petition, which specifies Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin, is backed by over one million citizen petition signatures.
Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that’s been devastating bees around the world, but it’s likely that Monsanto has known the danger their GMOs posed to bees all along. The biotech giant recently purchased a CCD research firm, Beeologics, that government agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, have been relying on for help unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of the bees.
Now that it’s owned by Monsanto, it’s very unlikely that Beeologics will investigate the links, but genetically engineered crops have been implicated in CCD for years now.
In one German study, when bees were released in a genetically engineered canola field, then fed the canola pollen to younger bees, scientists discovered the bacteria in the guts of the young bees took on the traits of the canola’s modified genes. That proves that GMO DNA in pollen can be transferred to bees though their digestive system.
Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees. High-fructose corn syrup is made from Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and that corn is treated with Bayer’s neonicotinoid insecticides.
Bee colonies began disappearing in the U.S. one year after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in 2004-2005. Even the EPA itself admits that “pesticide poisoning” is contributing to bee colony collapse.
One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees. Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to natural bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Indeed, pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and IAPV are found in large amounts in honey bee hives on the verge of collapse.
Three recent studies implicate neonicotinoid insecticides, or “neonics” for short, which coat 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds in the U.S. alone. They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As detailed in an article published by Reuters, neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. Neonics are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.
This was the conclusion of research which came out in the prestigious Journal Science. In another study, conducted by entomologists at Purdue University, the scientists found that neonic-containing dust released into the air at planting time had “lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers.” A third study by the Harvard School of Public Health actually re-created colony collapse disorder in several honeybee hives simply by administering small doses of a popular neonic, imidacloprid.
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