New Study: Pesticide-Coated Seeds Threaten Wild Bees | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

New Study: Pesticide-Coated Seeds Threaten Wild Bees

For immediate release: April 22, 2015
Contact: Paul Towers, 916-216-1082 or ptowers@panna.org

On Earth Day, a groundbreaking new study published in the journal Nature documented serious impacts on wild bees from exposure to pesticide coated seeds used in major crops around the world.

The study (Rundlof et al, 2015) found adverse effects from use of a seed coating containing a neonicotinoid and a non-systemic insecticide on wild bee populations. Colonies of honey bees were also assessed in this study and no short-term impacts were observed.

The study comes on the heels of EPA’s decision to prohibit the approval of new neonicotinoid pesticides, in advance of an overdue and much anticipated plan by the White House Pollinator Health Task Force meant to protect pollinators from all harmful pesticides.

Over 50 years ago, scientist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring and documented the impacts of pesticides on birds. This pivotal book led to the first Earth Day and a new wave of the understanding of hazardous chemicals on health and the environment.

In response to the new article, Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network released the following statement:

“Millions of acres of seeds across the United States, including canola, corn, cotton and soy, are pre-coated with bee-harming pesticides. The new report highlights that wild bees face threats from neonicotinoid pesticides used to coat these seeds and demonstrates the need for comprehensive action by policymakers on all bee-harming pesticides.

Wild pollinators make a significant contribution to ecosystems and pollination — in certain cases, wild bees alone have been known to fully pollinate crops. This study documented real-world, adverse impacts of a seed coating on wild pollinator density, nesting, colony growth and reproduction. The results suggest that honey bees may not always serve as an “indicator species” for adverse effects on wild pollinators, as the researchers found no apparent impacts in the short term on honey bee colonies assessed in the same study.

With 50 years of understanding of how pesticides affect the environment and studies like this one that continue raise red flags, EPA should take steps now to protect honey bees and wild pollinators from widespread use of pesticide coated seeds. In addition, these seed coatings have been shown to provide negligible benefits to farmers while impacting the environment and contaminating our soil and water.”

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