Originally published September 7 2014
Groundbreaking study shows that Roundup causes honeybees to starve
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) When honeybees come into contact with glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, they lose their ability to eat and have a much harder time learning how to forage properly. These are among the many shock findings of a recent study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, which for the first time demonstrates both chronic and acute effects in honeybees exposed to Roundup at real-life levels.
A combined laboratory and field analysis conducted by researchers from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina found that Roundup exhibits harm at sub-lethal levels, meaning levels that don't necessarily kill bees but that still affect them. Using the Apis mellifera type of honeybee, which is a primary pollinator in most agricultural environments, the team looked at how bees respond to trace levels of Roundup that match what they might find in a real-world foraging situation.
Based on these field-realistic doses, exposed bees were found to have reduced sucrose sensitivity, or a lowered ability to identify and track food. Exposed bees also experienced a drop in learning performance, as well as increased difficulties smelling food and other substances. And in terms of memory retention, exposed bees fared much worse than non-exposed bees, hence the tendency of bees in a colony collapse disorder (CCD) situation not being able to find their way back to the hive.
"We found a reduced sensitivity to sucrose and learning performance for the groups chronically exposed to GLY [glyphosate] concentrations within the range of recommended doses," wrote the authors.
"Altogether, these results imply that GLY at concentrations found in agro-ecosystems due to standard spraying can reduce sensitivity to nectar reward and impair associative learning in honeybees."
Honeybees bring Roundup back to the hive, poisoning all the other bees Indirect exposure to Roundup was also observed during the analysis, as bees were found to bring tainted nectar back to the hive, poisoning all the other bees in the process. While foraging behavior was not observed to be directly affected by bees' exposure to Roundup, the distribution of Roundup via nectar did have a cumulative effect on the entire hive's ability to function, which includes foraging.
"[W]e speculate that successful forager bees could become a source of constant inflow of nectar with GLY traces that could then be distributed among nest mates, stored in the hive and have long-term negative consequences on colony performance," concluded researchers.
A 55-year beekeeping veteran, writing for Mother Earth News, speculated back in 2010 that Roundup is a primary cause of CCD. In his report, Terrence N. Ingram explained how, for years, he observed entire bee colonies collapsing almost immediately after nearby fields were sprayed with Roundup. By the end of the spraying season, entire colonies were completely dead, he repeatedly observed.
You can read Ingram's report here:
What this means for conventional agriculture is that banning neonicotinoid pesticides isn't enough to stem the tide of bee die-offs that increasingly threatens the viability of the global food supply. Roundup, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, will also need to be scrapped if there is any chance at all of preserving our ability to grow food -- and more than likely, there are many other untested pesticides in use that are harming honeybees as well.
"This is the first study on the sub-lethal effects of an herbicide on honeybee behaviour and we hope it contributes to understanding how honeybee hives situated in agricultural environments are affected by agrochemicals," wrote the authors.
You can access the complete study here:
Sources for this article include:
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