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Breaking - Spokane City Council rebels against bee-killing pesticide and votes to ban neonicotinoids

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(NaturalNews) Another positive step in protecting bees has been taken, this time by the Spokane City Council. It will now be illegal for the City of Spokane to purchase or use neonicotinoid insecticides, such as RoundUp Ready. Following the example of Eugene, Oregon, the city is the second in the nation to ban the troublesome chemical. Manufacturers, such as Monsanto and Bayer, have repeatedly claimed that neonicotinoids do not influence Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) even in the face of mounting scientific evidence that the pesticide plays a major role in the dwindling bee numbers.

A mystery solved?

For years, scientists have been baffled as to the underlying cause of CCD. Researchers calculate that roughly one-third of the honey bee colonies in the United States have vanished. While the USDA has allocated $20 million toward research into this problem, that amount is just a drop in the bucket compared to the potential loss of the $15 billion worth of crops pollinated by bees each year.

Scientists have questioned a variety of influences that could lead to CCD -- including invasive parasitic mites, problematic food supplies, viruses that attack the bees' immune system and cell phone towers. However, one element has come to the forefront of the debate: neonicotinoid-based pesticides.

Research published in the journal Science found that neonicotinoid pesticides interfered with the bees' homing abilities, leading to colony collapse:

"Nonlethal exposure of honey bees to thiamethoxam (neonicotinoid systemic pesticide) causes high mortality due to homing failure at levels that could put a colony at risk of collapse. Simulated exposure events on free-ranging foragers labeled with a radio-frequency identification tag suggest that homing is impaired by thiamethoxam intoxication. These experiments offer new insights into the consequences of common neonicotinoid pesticides used worldwide."

Moreover, a detailed report by The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation discovered that, while there is no direct link between neonicotinoid pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder, "recent research suggests that neonicotinoids may make honey bees more susceptible to parasites and pathogens, including the intestinal parasite Nosema, which has been implicated as one causative factor in CCD." The report also found that since neonicotinoid residues are found in pollen and nectar consumed by bees -- and can cause death in high enough concentrations -- the pesticide is a strong contributor to the decline in bee populations. Other findings include:

  • Neonicotinoids can persist in the soil for months or years after a single application. Measurable amounts of residues were found in woody plants up to six years after application.

  • Products approved for homeowners to use in gardens and lawns and on ornamental trees have manufacturer-recommended application rates up to 120 times higher than the rates approved for agricultural crops.

  • Many neonicotinoid pesticides sold to homeowners for use on lawns and gardens do not mention of the risks of these products to bees and the label guidance for the products used in agriculture is not always clear or consistent.

  • The debate will continue between neonicotinoid pesticide manufactures and scientists as to what is causing the decline in bee numbers and healthy colonies. In the meantime, elected officials in Spokane believe that there is enough evidence that the insecticide causes harm to ban it, while prioritizing "the protection of our food supply over the ornamental use of pesticides," said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart in Food Safety News.

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