photo by Michael via flickr
We've written about colony collapse disorder a number of times, and while a parasitic mite which makes bees more susceptible to disease has been linked to the honey bee die-off, the Natural Resources Defense Council believes that the US Environmental Protection Agency knows more than it is letting on about the connection between pesticides and CCD. In an attempt to force the EPA into giving up the goods, the NRDC has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Washington DC.EPA Refuses Access to Documents
The documents which the NRDC wants access to are related to a pesticide made by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin, which was granted registration in 2003 on the condition that Bayer submit studies about the product's impact on bees. The EPA has refused to disclose the results of these studies, or even if the studies have been submitted.
Pesticide Known to be 'Highly Toxic to Honey Bees'
Clothianidin is in a relatively new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, ENS reports. According to an entomologist quoted in the original ENS article, "There is conflicting information about the affects of neonicotinoids on honey bees, and different chemicals in this class are known to vary in their toxicity to bees, however the EPA identifies both imidacloprid and clothianidin as highly toxic to honey bees."
Clothianidin was banned this May in Germany due to concerns about its impact on bees. France banned a similar insecticide a few years before that.
One-Third of US Diet Dependent on Honey Bees
The NRDC says that in the past two years, some American beekeepers have reported losses of 30-90% of their honeybees. To give a sense of the scale of this, the USDA says that bees pollinate $15 billion dollars worth of crops in the United States, and adds that one-third of the food in the typical American diet has a connection to bee pollination.