Neonicotinoid Honey Bee Impact

Beekeepers demonstrate

Les apiculteurs demandent l'interdiction du Cruiser depuis plusieurs années. (ph. archives B. GUAY/afp)

Sud Ouest reports on Saturday 2 June that Stéphane Le Foll, the new French Minister of Agriculture, has banned the use of Syngenta’s ©Cruiser OSR for use in the rape seed (safflower) fields. France has over 790,000 hectares (1,952,000 acres) of winter rape seed planted for the 2011-2012 season. This was in reaction to a report published online 29 March in Science:

A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees by Mickaël Henry, Maxime Béguin, Fabrice Requier, Orianne Rollin, Jean-François Odoux, Pierrick Aupine, Jean Aptel, Sylvie Tchamitchian, Axel Decourtye. Correspondence can be addressed to: mickael.henry@avignon.inra.fr

Abstract:

Nonlethal exposure of honey bees to thiamethoxam (neonicotinoid systemic pesticide) causes high mortality due to homing failure at levels that could put a colony at risk of collapse. Simulated exposure events on free-ranging foragers labeled with a radio-frequency identification tag suggest that homing is impaired by thiamethoxam intoxication. These experiments offer new insights into the consequences of common neonicotinoid pesticides used worldwide.

The active ingredients in ©Cruiser OSR are thiamethoxam, fludioxonil and metalaxyl-m. Thiamethoxam is an insecticide that attacks a broad spectrum of seed, soil and foliar chewing and sucking insects and targets these pests through contact and stomach activity. It is a neonicotioid and according to the EPA they are “a class of insecticides with a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death.” Fludioxonil and metalaxyl-m work against various plant diseases such as Phoma lingham, Alternaria spp., Downy Mildew and Pythium spp.

As part of the Syngenta ©Cruiser seed treatment label approval the EPA did comment that operators should follow precautions:

“This product is toxic to wildlife and highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates. Thiamethoxam is highly toxic to bees, and effects may be possible as a result of exposure to translocated residues in blooming crops. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment wash water.”

It should also be pointed out that Syngenta’s ©Cruiser family of seed treatments is approved by the EPA for use with over 200 plants.

A review of the EPA website led to their procedure for reviewing products that have already been approved for use. Testing is good but by integrating actual field results with the expectations resulting from the initial application and approval process ensure that we maintain a safe balance for commerce and the environment. Following is an except from that site:

Neonicotinoids (NN)

The neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides with a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. All of the neonicotinoids were registered after 1984 and were not subject to reregistration. Some uncertainties have been identified since their initial registration regarding the potential environmental fate and effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly as they relate to pollinators. Data suggest that neonicotinic residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants and may represent a potential exposure to pollinators. Adverse effects data as well as beekill incidents have also been reported, highlighting the potential direct and/or indirect effects of neonicotinic pesticides. Therefore, among other refinements to ecological risk assessment during registration review, the Agency will consider potential effects of the neonicotinoids to honeybees and other pollinating insects.

The registration review docket for imidacloprid opened in December 2008, and the docket for nithiazine opened in March 2009. To better ensure a “level playing field” for the neonicotinoid class as a whole, and to best take advantage of new research as it becomes available, the Agency has moved the docket openings for the remaining neonicotinoids on the registration review schedule (acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam) to FY 2012.

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  1. Pingback: Colony Collapse Disorder | T20R11

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