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Study Finds New Pesticides As Harmful To Bees As Neonicotinoids

Concerns about bee health have grown in recent years, and research shows pesticides are partly to blame (Graeme Scott/Flickr)

When the most commonly used pesticide in the world also harms insects that crops depend on, you look for a solution.

But what happens when the solution is as harmful as the problem?

A report in the journal Nature warns new sulfoximine-based insecticides are harmful to bees, too.

“This study shows an unacceptable scale of impact on bumblebee reproductive success, after realistic levels of exposure to sulfoxaflor,” commented Lynn Dicks, a Natural Environmental Research Council Fellow at the University of East Anglia, to the Guardian.

Sulfoximine-based insecticides were created as a solution to neonicotinoid-based insecticides.
Neonicotinoids are based on the chemical structure of nicotine and attack insect nervous systems. They cause bees to become disorientated, making it difficult to find their way back their hive after foraging, and lower bees’ resistance to disease.

The report in Nature shows sulfoximide-based pesticides and neonicotinoid-based pesticides both impair colony growth and reproduction. Neonicotinoids also impair pollen foraging, while research found no evidence of impaired foraging in bees exposed to sulfoximine-based pesticides.

Neonicotinoid-based pesticide use is slowly being phased out of many countries. European Union countries voted to ban three neonicotinoid-based products in open fields, restricting use to covered greenhouses. Canada announced earlier this month the phase-out of two neonicotinoid-based pesticides widely applied to canola, corn and soybean crops.

Sulfloxaflor-based pesticide use is still relatively new and on the rise. Two sulfoxaflor-based pesticides are approved for sale in the US, under the brand names Transform and Closer. Sulfoxaflor is also registered in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico and several other countries.

Read More:

New pesticides may harm bees as much as existing ones(The Guardian)

A new pesticide may be as harmful to bees as the old one (Science Magazine)

Photo Caption:
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Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough has degrees anthropology and journalism. She has worked with the oral history project StoryCorps. A nomad at heart, she recently returned to Louisville, Kentucky, where's she's excited to have her own kitchen and garden again.

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