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Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe | Environment | The Observer

The bees are still dying -- US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. "We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies," said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS's bee research laboratory. The wipe-out of so many colonies has been dubbed ‘Marie Celeste’ syndrome because many hives have been found empty, with no sign of dead bees.

Bees are a critical part of the food chain because flowering plants depend on insects for pollination and the honeybee is the most effective. It pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide, including most fruit and vegetables – from apples to carrots – alfalfa for cattle feed, nuts, oil-seed rape and cotton.

A world without honeybees would mean a largely meatless diet of rice and cereals, no cotton for textiles, no orchards or wildflowers and decimation among wild birds and animals in the bee food chain.

I don't have any actions to suggest - except to encourage a pesticide ban, and the problems with Monsanto - but if you find any petitions or actions, let us know.

Here's a Danish study

GM figures largely in this crisis - although governments will continue skirting around this fact because big business doesn't want to see its profits take a dip. Proteinase inhibitors present in transgenic plants disrupt bee development and longevity. The conclusion of the paper: Environmental Risk Assessment of Transgenic Plants Using Honey Bee Larvae, produced by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, stated:

Adult worker honey bees mainly eat pollen as nurse bees, with a peak in pollen intake at day nine after emerging. The pollen intake and, thus, amount and type of digested protein, is correlated to the developmental status of the hypopharyngeal glands (30-31).

The secretions of these glands are important components of the larval food. It is therefore likely that nurse bees that ingest PIs will be poorer producers of larval food both in terms of quantity and quality. Hence, not only will the longevity and learning ability of adult bees be reduced (17-20) affecting their performance as forager bees if they are influenced by a SBTI containing pollen or nectar source, they will probably also be suboptimal tenders of larvae as nurse bees. A crop expressing SBTI in a 1.0% concentration in pollen or nectar will, therefore, have both a direct impact on honey bee larvae through digestive inhibition (resulting in increased development time, increased juvenile mortality, and individuals surviving to adulthood being smaller) and an indirect impact through nourishment depletion through affected nurse bees.

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