Bees, Our Poisoned Treasure

05 May 2014

Greenpeace has just released a new report on the state of bees in Europe which is now available online for download.
The study looked at analyses of pollen specimens from the interiors of beehives in 7 countries and pollen specimens taken from the entrances of beehives from 12 countries. It was through this research that widespread agrochemical contamination of the pollen was confirmed. This pollen is an excellent source of protein for bees, serving as a fundamental food for them as well as other invertebrates. Seventeen out of 25 pollen samples already stored in the hive have been confirmed contaminated by at least one of the 17 leading pesticides. Fifty-three pesticides were found in the pollen take from the hive openings; at least one of these was present in 72 of the 107 samples. Italy, with a rate of insecticide use that is highest in the European Union, is credited with another statistic of little honor: it has registered the widest range of contaminated molecules in its pollens, particularly in proximity to vineyards.

 The fragility of bees is well known, especially in the face of calamities like the loss of biodiversity, diseases, and climate change. However, this investigation documents the poisonous and pervasive contamination that afflicts a large part of living things that are essential to the agricultural productive cycle. The diffusion of pesticide use increases and aggravates preexisting imbalances in nature; this particular aspect of farming could easily be curbed if appropriate measures were taken.

 We are still not doing enough to protect our world from the toxic actions of pesticides, be them immediate or misleading in their slow reveal. The ban on systemic insecticides (neonicotinoids) has only been temporary and partial in its purview up to now. We should be doing much more: we need to institute permanent bans, extend them to other insecticides and pesticides, and increase funding for research and the development of ecological agricultural practices. The bees are asking us this very question, and we are on their side.

 Silvia Ceriani


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