Monday, May 26, 2014

Bayer attacks Harvard study linking bee deaths to chemical in its pesticides

Neonicotinoids are widely on crops like corn, soybeans, cotton, sorghum, sugar beets, apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes and are commonplace in yard and landscaping products.
     And now, a new Harvard study fingers neonics as the key driver of colony collapse disorder:
The experiment couldn't have been simpler. Working with nearby beekeepers, Harvard researcher Chensheng Lu and his team treated 12 colonies with tiny levels of neonics and kept six control hives free of the popular chemicals. All 18 hives made it through summer without any apparent trouble. Come winter, though, the bees in six of the treated hives vanished, leaving behind empty colonies—the classic behavior of colony collapse disorder.

     Bayer accused Lu of "overdosing" the bees with neonicotinoids (even though the amount he used was tiny) and that 13 weeks of exposure was "too long" to simulate exposure of bees to crop pesticides even though in New England, the home of Harvard, "bees can forage outside from March to September — 30 weeks," and elsewhere in the U.S. they can gather food for as long as 41 weeks.
     Perhaps Bayer needs more academics like this one at the University of Nebraska who are respectful of both its talking points and its attempts to blame bee deaths not on the pesticides it sells, but on viruses and mites, for which it just happens to sell insecticides.

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