(NaturalNews) The German government has provisionally banned a family of pesticides conclusively linked to the massive dieoff of honeybees in a southern state.
"It's a real bee emergency," said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association, referring to the collapse of bee populations in the state of Baden-Württemberg. "Fifty to 60 percent of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."
Government researchers tested the bodies of dead bees, and found that 99 percent had been contaminated with the pesticide clothianidin, made by Bayer. The pesticide had been applied to the seeds of oilseed rape in the nearby Rhine River Valley.
Bayer blamed the dieoff on the improper application of the pesticide, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified as "highly toxic" to honeybees. Normally, seeds to be sprayed with clothianidin and similar pesticides are treated with a kind of glue so that the toxin sticks. In this case, Bayer said, the glue was not applied, allowing the poison to get into the air.
Clothianidin is a pesticide in the neonicotinoid family. This class of chemicals is applied to seeds and then spreads into all the tissues of the plant. Based on nicotine, the neonicotinoids are toxic to the nervous systems of any insect that comes into contact with them.
"We have been pointing out the risks of neonicotinoids for almost 10 years now," said Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers. "This [incident] proves without a doubt that the chemicals can come into contact with bees and kill them. These pesticides shouldn't be on the market."
The German government, apparently in agreement, withdrew the licenses for eight neonicotinoid pesticides, including Bayer's best-selling insecticide, imidacloprid. If manufacturers submit evidence that the chemicals are safe for bees, however, the government may reinstate the licenses.
The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers wants Germany to follow the lead of France, which permanently banned imidacloprid after massive honeybee dieoffs in 1999. France also bans the use of clothianidin.