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EFSA: Insecticides Pose Threat to Honey Bees

Jan 17, 2013 05:45 AM EST
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honey bee
file photo of a honey bee. A beekeeper from Vermont found zombie bees in his hive.
(Photo : Reuters)

The European Food Safety Authority scientists have detected a threat to honey bees from an insecticide, 'neonicontinoid'.

According to the European Food Safety Agency report, crops that are being treated with the neonocotinoid chemicals such as imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam cause great harm to bee health. Environmental activists are demanding a ban on these chemicals.

"The EFSA report confirms what we have been asking EPA to recognize. Clothianidin and other neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees, and should be banned by EPA and removed from the environment," Jay Feldman, executive director, Beyond Pesticides, said in a press statement.

The central nervous system of the bees is affected by these insecticides causing paralysis and death, EFSA said in a statement.

According to the EFSA, these chemicals were found in the pollen and nectar of plants that were treated with these insecticides, thereby causing harm to the bees that consume them. Environmentalists suggest that they should be used on crops that are not attractive to the honeybees.

However, no direct link has been traced between the use of pesticides and the rapid bee colony collapse disorder. But if further studies reveal a definitive threat to the bee colony from these chemicals, necessary measures will be taken.

Almost three quarters of oilseed rape crops in the U.K. are treated with neonicotinoids. These crops are frequented by bees.

"Defra and the U.K. Advisory Committee on Pesticides have previously stressed their confidence in the safety of these products so they must now examine EFSA's risk assessment carefully before deciding whether U.K. farmers can continue to use these chemicals on crops, such as oilseed rape," Joan Walley, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee was quoted in the Telegraph.

In countries like France, Germany and Slovenia, the use of neonicotinoid products is banned.

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