Pesticides + high fructose corn syrup = bee deaths + colony collapse disorder?

From Jason Louv, on Ultraculture:

Picture via Jason Louv’s Ultraculture blog. Click image to go there.

“Colony collapse disorder, or the widescale death of bees, has been a troubling marker of environmental degradation. Its cause has also remained a mystery, despite being blamed on everything from industrial pollution to cell phone tower radiation. (It’s likely a complex set of factors—Europe, for instance, is banning neonicotinoids, pesticides that have been linked to bee deaths.) However, a just-released study from the University of Illinois names a clear factor: beekeepers have been feeding bees high fructose corn syrup instead of honey (as they sell the honey).

Well, that would seem a no-brainer. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to a huge range of health problems in human beings, specifically obesity. It’s also in just about all processed food, which has been blamed for the rise in diabetes and weight problems in America and abroad.

High fructose corn syrup, by the way, is usually made from Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt corn, which has been altered to produce its own insectide, a Bt toxin that destroys the stomachs of insects who munch on the corn. Is there any wonder then (and I haven’t seen anybody make this link yet) that high-fructose corn syrup would kill the bees that eat it?


A team of entomologists from the University of Illinois has found a possible link between the practice of feeding commercial honeybees high-fructose corn syrup and the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world. The team outlines their research and findings in a paper they’ve had published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Since approximately 2006, groups that manage commercial honeybee colonies have been reporting what has become known as colony collapse disorder—whole colonies of bees simply died, of no apparent cause. As time has passed, the disorder has been reported at sites all across the world, even as scientists have been racing to find the cause, and a possible cure. To date, most evidence has implicated pesticides used to kill other insects such as mites. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence to suggest the real culprit might be high-fructose corn syrup, which beekeepers have been feeding bees as their natural staple, honey, has been taken away from them….”

More on Ultraculture.

Meanwhile, in Canada — from CBC news:

“In an effort to reduce health risks to honeybees, Ontario’s agriculture ministry is asking grain farmers to take extra care when planting crops this spring.

A Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs entomologist said that “virtually all corn seed” is treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide, which could pose a threat to the health of honey bees. Tracey Baute said “neonicotinoid contaminated dust” is eventually carried into the air and could be linked to the death of thousands of bees.

Between April and June 2012, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency received “an unusually high number of incident reports of bee losses” from across southern Ontario, Baute said. The agency said the reports involved 40 beekeepers and more than 200 bee yards.

The agency said the “timing and location of these incidents coincided with corn planting in major corn-producing regions” of Ontario.

Residues of nitro-guanidine neonicotinoid insecticides used to treat corn seed were detected in approximately 70 per cent the dead bee samples analyzed by the agency….

More on CBC News.

And here’s Jon Queally, from Common Dreams, reporting about the EU:

“They came to speak for the bees.

Ahead of an expected EU vote on Monday that will determine a possible ban on a class of pesticides that scientists say are killing off the continents’ bees and other pollinators, a coalition of beekeepers, conservationists, gardeners, and environmental activists marched on Parliament in London on Friday as a way to urge the UK to join other European nations in supporting the ban.

Yellow and black dominated the scene as many in attendance dressed as bees, wore their apiary suits and carried signs that read “Like Food? Love Bees” and “No to Neonic,” referring to pesticide class called neonicotinoids that a number of recent studies have tied directly to the decline of bee populations.

The organizers of the so-called “March of the Beekeepers” included Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, Soil Association and the group 38 Degrees.

“Ministers can’t ignore the growing scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline,” said Friends of the Earth’s campaigns director Andrew Pendleton. “Their claims to be concerned about bee health will ring hollow if they fail to back European moves to restrict the use of these chemicals.”

He continued: “If we lose our bees and other vital pollinators it’ll have a devastating impact on our food, gardens and environment. We urgently need tougher pesticide restrictions and a British Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats they face.”…”

More on Common Dreams.

And finally a few words from Mike Barrett, on Natural Society:

“In a major victory for environmental preservation, the European Union has announced a potential history-making ban on neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to the death of bees worldwide.

As irritating as bees can be, everyone knows how essential these tiny insects are not only for flowers, but for the entire ecosystem and agricultural purposes at large. Unfortunately, the bee population has dropped dramatically over the last few years across the EU and the United States. There are multiple factors to consider, but one large factor is the use of bee-destroying pesticides. This is why the European Union has decided to heavily restrict the use of these pesticides on crops, despite being split on the decision among the states.

Despite 15 nations voting against the ban, EU rules allow for a designated ruling body to enact limitations on the use of neonicotinoids. The EU commission may now put into effect a 2 year restriction on neonicotinoids found in pesticides – the chemicals responsible for harming bees. Furthermore, the UK won’t have the option to opt of of these restrictions (even though they voted against a ban due to ‘inconclusive scientific evidence’).

More on Natural Society.


Filed under News

2 responses to “Pesticides + high fructose corn syrup = bee deaths + colony collapse disorder?

  1. the Bovine

    “What on earth is neonicotinoid pesticide ? And how is it linked to killing bees across the planet? EU is reportedly considering banning this manmade chemical for a while, so its effects on bees and other living organisms, including humans, can be better ascertained.

    So thats the deal here? To find out, myself from British Columbia, and Rose Stevens from Manitoba, called up Dr. Shiv Chopra in Ontario, and asked him.

    Dr. Shiv Chopra needs to introduction. Here he talks about the unfortunate development where the Canadian Government appears to be favoring products that could have a health concern but is siding with Corporations and not pushing for a precautionary approach to testing products that might have an unproven health concern.

    The result of that conversation is attached here in this seven and a quarter minute audio podcast.”

  2. william

    I am surprised, illinois is responding to this ‘corn syrup’ issue now. Whistle blowers have said this in the past: take away ggod food from the bees (their honey), colony collapse will occur because of a deficient immune system. …….Bt corn is a DNA structural issue. Because the corn has a ‘repellent’ built into its celluar structure the transfer of a pesticide from the plant to animal is unheard of. If Bees were repeeled from Bt corn and unable to pollinate Bt corn, that would be an issue. I cringe when I read posts that show no understanding of how genetics has been used to alter plant cells….

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