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57 pesticides are poisoning our bees
Quechers is a method that allows to detecting pesticide residues in food. With this system, it was possible to do a screening test on over 200 different types of pesticides to which bees are exposed, and on their interaction.
European bees are poisoned by a cocktail of 57 pesticides, according to a new study. 98% of these substances are regularly approved for use by the EU. And bees are dying off.
European bees are exposed to at least 57 different types of weed killers. This shocking figure was revealed by research conducted in Poland and published in the Journal of Chromatography, which has detected the toxic cocktail in poisoned honeybees by means of a method called Quechers for analysing 200 pesticides at the same time.
Researchers did their tests to investigate 70 honeybee poisoning incidents and discovered that bees weren’t killed by a single pesticide, but by a combination of them – a true deadly cocktail – as well as by prolonged exposure to them.
The cocktail of pesticides is a global threat to bees
Scientists also found that 98% of the substances detected during the study is regularly authorised by the European Union. Researchers highlighted the seriousness of this global threat to honeybees: in the United States the population of these insects is rapidly declining because of the Colony Collapse Disorder, while in Europe the connection between the use of pesticides and mass bee die-offs led to a ban on neonicotinoids. However, the study carried out by the Polish Veterinary Research Institute underlines that banning a single family of pesticides may not be enough to save bees.
“Bees are considered critically important for the environment – said Tomasz Kiljanek, lead author of the study – that’s why we wanted to develop a test for a large number of pesticides currently approved for use in the European Union”.
“This is just the beginning of our research on the impact of pesticides on honeybee health. – said Kiljanek – Honeybee poisoning incidents are the tip of the iceberg. Even at very low levels, pesticides can weaken bees’ defense systems, allowing parasites or viruses to kill the colony”.
So many pesticides in use
With so many pesticides in use, it’s difficult to understand which ones are seriously putting bees at risk. What is certain is that some combinations of pesticides (the cocktail effect) and a prolonged exposure to them poison honeybees and weaken their defenses against parasites and some diseases.
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