×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Pesticide, High-Fructose Corn Syrup

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the eat-your-vegetables-honey dept.

Earth 398

hondo77 writes "Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health '...have re-created the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder in several honeybee hives simply by giving them small doses of a popular pesticide, imidacloprid.' This follows recently-reported studies also linked the disorder to neonicotinoid pesticides. What is really interesting is the link to when the disorder started appearing, 2006. 'That mechanism? High-fructose corn syrup. Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees, which the researchers say did not imperil bees until U.S. corn began to be sprayed with imidacloprid in 2004-2005. A year later was the first outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

398 comments

Still needs more research (2, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#39607029)

While the pesticide stuff is pretty obvious, I'm more skeptical about the HFCS link, especially if they're claiming its Monstanto GMO corn causing it. Or something silly. Yes, sugar is a poison, and HFCS is vile, but it's going to take another few studies to convince me.

Re:Still needs more research (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | about 2 years ago | (#39607043)

Do you have any experience in this field that would justify your position? Is there something in the paper that makes you think that this link is not correct? Have you a better idea of what may have caused this?

Re:Still needs more research (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607211)

My guess is that he's a Ruby on Rails programmer. That clearly makes him qualified to hold an authoritative opinion on any matter in any field.

Re:Still needs more research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607233)

This is truer than most people realize.

Re:Still needs more research (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607727)

Read her journal. She is a Microsofty (crackberry and winvnc by her former boss). That indicates that she is qualified for nothing except leaving backdoors for virus writers.

Re:Still needs more research (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607631)

Because only people with degrees in any particular field of study are allowed to have an opinion on that field of study.

Seriously, WTF is your problem? Same to the moron moderator that modded down the comment.

Stupid fucking teenagers and college "students" who think they know everything.

Explained in Article! (4, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#39607059)

While the pesticide stuff is pretty obvious, I'm more skeptical about the HFCS link

I know this is Slashdot but if you read the article the explanation becomes very clear. Some bees are fed with HFCS and the syrup itself is derived from crops treated with the pesticide and so it is present in low levels in the syrup and apparently only very low levels are needed to generate CCD.

Re:Explained in Article! (4, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39607227)

And even more interesting, in all three studies the pesticide was intentionally fed to the bees in the sugar water; it wasn't collected by the bees. The Harvard study also points out the bee keepers feed their colonies HFCS, which apparently started containing trace amounts of the pesticide about the time they noticed colony collapse become a problem. Kind of sounds like they need to stop feeding HFCS.

Re:Explained in Article! (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#39607641)

And even more interesting, in all three studies the pesticide was intentionally fed to the bees in the sugar water; it wasn't collected by the bees. The Harvard study also points out the bee keepers feed their colonies HFCS, which apparently started containing trace amounts of the pesticide about the time they noticed colony collapse become a problem. Kind of sounds like they need to stop feeding HFCS.

Which would be a very neat conclusion... if it weren't for the fact that non-HFCS fed bees have also been hit by CCD. It doesn't let the insecticide or even tainted HFCS off the hook, but it does suggest that that it's not so simple as "stop feeding HFCS, bees survive".

Re:Explained in Article! (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39607733)

And even more interesting, in all three studies the pesticide was intentionally fed to the bees in the sugar water; it wasn't collected by the bees. The Harvard study also points out the bee keepers feed their colonies HFCS, which apparently started containing trace amounts of the pesticide about the time they noticed colony collapse become a problem. Kind of sounds like they need to stop feeding HFCS.

But was this food grade HFCS?

Is the FDA on board with pesticide being passed thru at detectable levels in a supposedly simple processed food product?

Re:Explained in Article! (0)

jfengel (409917) | about 2 years ago | (#39607413)

Even without noticing the presence of the pesticide, shouldn't somebody have noticed earlier that bees fed HFCS die faster than bees that don't?

Re:Explained in Article! (5, Informative)

Zibodiz (2160038) | about 2 years ago | (#39607695)

As a former beekeeper, I can tell you they don't. They're only fed HFCS during the late winter, once they've run out of honey. A month later, they were making honey again. It didn't used to hurt them at all.

Re:Still needs more research (5, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#39607073)

From the summary it sounds like the pesticide is piggybacking on the HFCS produced. The first article is more clear in this, that the problem is the pesticide, not the corn syrup itself.

Monsanto's corn, however, is designed to be pesticide resistant, so farmers can use more pesticide on their corn. It's possible that at low enough dosages colony collapse disorder doesn't occur, but Monsanto's corn allows a much higher dose to be tolerated by the corn.

All in all, this is a pretty reasonable conclusion I think.

Re:Still needs more research (2, Funny)

haruchai (17472) | about 2 years ago | (#39607183)

Looks like Fred Singer, Steven Milloy and the CEI / Heartland folks will have something to distract them from denying global warming for a bit.

Re:Still needs more research (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#39607259)

Yeah, but they're using HFCS because ordinary cane sugar's price has been artificially propped up by setting tariffs on foreign sugar producers. So in a way, the sugar tariff is ALSO helping cement Monsanto's corn monopoly.

Re:Still needs more research (4, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#39607457)

The sugar tariffs result from Cuba being a major sugar cane producer. The same right wing that wants no trade at all with Castro wants Cuban sugar that passes through other Carribean nations to be so expensive nobody in the US wants to import any, just to prevent those other Carribean states from even possibly serving as pass throughs for any funds getting through to Cuba.

So in the US we have a right wing that will oppose any science finding that colony collapse has anything to do with ADM, Monsanto, or other Megacorps. Now you point out that the root causes include other right wing policies. That's not going to cause them to rethink their position. THEY can't be the ones responsible for anything bad, so they'll have to double down on blaiming "acts of God", or the Gay Liberal Bees, or something.

Re:Still needs more research (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607667)

Corn subsidies are only half the story. There's also the DoA's policies on sugar [forbes.com].

Re:Still needs more research (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607687)

The OWS morons must be back in their mother's basements.

"Castro's a swell guy and the Cubans have the best healthcare in the world"
"Big (insert favorite corporate devil here) is poisoning (insert what the hell ever here) and we are all going to die"
"I like to fuck other guys in the ass and you should be happy and approving of that"
"It's Bush's fault"

I now understand the disgust that my dad had for Hippies. Today's OWS are the same thing. Over privileged, overeducated (in some stupid, useless field of study) and utterly incapable of rational thought.

Fuck off and die already.

Re:Still needs more research (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#39607341)

Monsanto's corn, however, is designed to be pesticide resistant, so farmers can use more pesticide on their corn.

No. Monsanto's corn is designed to be herbicide resistant.

Re:Still needs more research (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607361)

Monsanto's corn, however, is designed to be pesticide resistant, so farmers can use more pesticide on their corn. It's possible that at low enough dosages colony collapse disorder doesn't occur, but Monsanto's corn allows a much higher dose to be tolerated by the corn.

There are genetically modified crops which are pest-resistant because they produce a bacterial toxin, and ones which are resistant to the "Roundup" (glyphosate) herbicide. However I have never heard of a GMO connection to the "neonicotinoid" class of pesticides which are relevant to this article.

Re:Still needs more research (4, Informative)

Znork (31774) | about 2 years ago | (#39607433)

Much as I think humanity would be better off with Monsanto collectively put to rot in prison, to be fair the gengineered plants are usually gengineered to be herbicide resistant, not insecticide resistant (which, as insects and plants are very different, they tend to be anyway). Gengineering for insect control tends to be along the avenue of making the plants themselves create toxins (bt corn), which doesn't include neonicotinids yet.

So in this particular case they might not be guilty (unlike other cases of bribery, illegal dumping of toxic waste, etc, etc).

Re:Still needs more research (3, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | about 2 years ago | (#39607437)

If you want to blame Big Agriculture, the culprit this time is Bayer, not Monsanto. They're the ones who make imidacloprid. There are plenty of other things to lay at Monsanto's feet without having to point the finger at them this time.

Re:Still needs more research (3, Insightful)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | about 2 years ago | (#39607081)

It's not about HFCS directly. It's the fact that is has trace amounts of a pesticide in it - pesticide that's intended to kill insects!

Now, I admit that I didn't fully read the article, but I'm pretty sure you're missing something fundamental. Monsanto GMO is not directly a problem. The problem is dumping pesticide on things because the crops have been given GMO resistance.

Gee - feed something with trace amounts of bug killer to bugs and it kills bugs. How did no one think of this earlier???

Re:Still needs more research (4, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39607089)

While the pesticide stuff is pretty obvious, I'm more skeptical about the HFCS link, especially if they're claiming its Monstanto GMO corn causing it. Or something silly. Yes, sugar is a poison, and HFCS is vile, but it's going to take another few studies to convince me.

RTFA, there's nothing about Monsanto. In short, it says: "LD50 is no longer enough to assess the toxicity of a substance... neonicotinoid pesticides were found to impact the bees homing ability, so they get lost and die of exhaustion".

Re:Still needs more research (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607111)

What is so difficult to grasp? These are systemic pesticides. They permeate the plant. You cannot wash them off. These exist in the flowers. In the corn. In the roots. In the stalk. The "industry" selling this poisons keep repeating that they do not get into the nectar, they do not get into the eatable bits. Well, this proves they lied - bees are the canary in the coal mine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insecticide [wikipedia.org]

Systemic insecticides are incorporated by treated plants. Insects ingest the insecticide while feeding on the plants.

Just remember. Whatever is killing the bees, you are also eating. With old school pesticides I used to wash the produce with some soap (pesticides were stuck on plants with a type of a glue, so you need detergent to wash it off), but now with systemics, all I can do is move to organic only food.

PS. It is rather quite ironic in a sad way that these pesticides, aimed at increasing food production, are actually causing a decrease (no bees, and yields drop)

Re:Still needs more research (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607447)

Yes, you can switch to organic food. Note, however, that these are neonicotinoids -- they act on insects in the same way as nicotine (which used to be widely used as an insecticide, and is still used by organic farmers), but are designed to lower acute toxicity in mammals. So, assuming you're a mammal, rather than a honeybee, you might actually be choosing the more dangerous option. (Of course, with any pesticide, the levels of application are kept such that the amount in the final product shouldn't be harmful to humans, so the risk to you eating the produce is vanishingly small either way -- nicotine toxicity is more an issue for the farm workers applying the concentrated product.)

The FDA and EPA do a reasonably good job of making sure pesticides for food crops are pretty safe for humans, both acutely and chronically, because that's what they do. They don't test everything so thoroughly for honeybees, which is why it was assumed that if levels were kept below acute toxicity levels, there'd be no problem. It doesn't follow that it's a problem for humans.

Re:Still needs more research (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39607613)

Yes, you can switch to organic food. Note, however, that these are neonicotinoids -- they act on insects in the same way as nicotine (which used to be widely used as an insecticide, and is still used by organic farmers), but are designed to lower acute toxicity in mammals. So, assuming you're a mammal, rather than a honeybee, you might actually be choosing the more dangerous option. (Of course, with any pesticide, the levels of application are kept such that the amount in the final product shouldn't be harmful to humans, so the risk to you eating the produce is vanishingly small either way -- nicotine toxicity is more an issue for the farm workers applying the concentrated product.)

The FDA and EPA do a reasonably good job of making sure pesticides for food crops are pretty safe for humans, both acutely and chronically, because that's what they do. They don't test everything so thoroughly for honeybees, which is why it was assumed that if levels were kept below acute toxicity levels, there'd be no problem. It doesn't follow that it's a problem for humans.

The problem is that the FDA doesn't really do much in the way of studies of long term, low level exposure. They would be awfully difficult to do. Since we don't have very good proxy measures for this sort of effect (unless Colony Collapse Disorder turns out to be such a proxy), it would take long periods of time and many people. Millions and millions of dollars. All we can say is very low level exposure to the neonicontinoids isn't acutely dangerous for humans. Everything else is up for grabs.

Re:Still needs more research (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607635)

Just remember. Whatever is killing the bees, you are also eating.

And chocolate kills dogs, but I'll continue eating it. Caffeine really messes up spiders, but I'll continue drinking soda.

We don't react the same way as every other life form on earth to chemicals. Even if these pesticides are harmful to us, and they probably can be, there's dosage to consider. What is enough to kill a bee is most likely not enough to do a damn thing to someone of your size and weight. Even proportionally speaking (yes, I know you consume more than the bees).

Re:Still needs more research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607707)

What has Slashdot become? I slightly dumber version of the Daily KOS? Perhaps more like the Democrat Underground.

Either way, it's filled with too many tin foil hat morons.

Re:Still needs more research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607133)

You gotta read the article. The corn syrup is the delivery vector for the pesticide. The corn syrup comes from treated corn, and has pesticide residues in it, naturally. These trigger the colony collapse. GIven the temporal linkage between when the pesticide comes into use on corn, the prevalence of feeding the bees with corn syrup, and the direct causal link between the pesticide and collapse, I'd say this is pretty damn convincing science.

Re:Still needs more research (4, Informative)

oneiron (716313) | about 2 years ago | (#39607159)

Normally, I would tell you to RTFA. In this case, however, it seems you didn't even read the summary:

Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees, which the researchers say did not imperil bees until U.S. corn began to be sprayed with imidacloprid in 2004-2005

This quote from the summary implies that, rather than GMO corn causing it, it's the pesticide (imidacloprid) that farmers spray on GMO corn because the corn is engineered to resist it. You're right. The pesticide stuff is pretty obvious...if you read it.

Re:Still needs more research (1)

mkremer (66885) | about 2 years ago | (#39607427)

GMO corn is engineered to resist a herbicide (roundup ready?) not pesticide.

So no the summary does not say what you think it does.

Re:Still needs more research (2)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#39607207)

While the pesticide stuff is pretty obvious, I'm more skeptical about the HFCS link, especially if they're claiming its Monstanto GMO corn causing it. Or something silly. Yes, sugar is a poison, and HFCS is vile, but it's going to take another few studies to convince me.

The story didn't say anything about GMO corn, it said that imidacloprid has gotten into HFCS because it's being sprayed on corn crops. Why bother commenting if you're only going to skim the article...the article recap at that? ADD much?

Re:Still needs more research (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39607253)

It's not a problem of Monsanto corn, or even corn. The problem is the pesticide, not the corn.

The pesticide is transferred to the bees via corn. Corn without the pesticide is fine. Apparently bees are extremely sensitive to this particular pesticide. Apparently bees are extremely sensitive to this stuff. It only takes 20 parts per billion to kill the colony within six months.

To put that in perspective, arsenic is allowed in drinking water at a level of 10 ppb. Cyanide is allowed at 200 ppb.

Re:Still needs more research (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39607709)

Pesticide is sprayed on corn, corn gets processed, pesticide gets into HFCS, HFCS with pesticide gets into bees....sounds pretty straightforward to me. Anybody whose done any farming knows no matter how powerful your cleaning methods are you will never gets a vegetable or fruit 100% clean which is why we didn't use pesticides on our small family plots, you can wash until hell freezes over but it gets down into the plant, no way around it.

I personally think all these GMOs and pesticides is probably why we have so many that are feeling generally "lousy" in these parts, it always seem to come around plating time when the stuff gets thick in the air. Not a decade ago we'd all practically roll around in pollen the stuff was so thick so that isn't it, and more and more people i know are having a harder and harder time tolerating foods they have always eaten like corn and tomatoes. I personally think they have tested all this crap by itself and not tested what happens when everybody is piled on with 40 other chemicals on top.

Tangential Jab (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#39607033)

The summary should be: "CCD Linked to Pesticide"

I get the feeling including HFCS so prominently in the story is more about triggering an emotional response in readers.

Re:Tangential Jab (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 2 years ago | (#39607057)

For the benefit of those of us unaware of any controversy, what kind of emotional response could be triggered by mentioning high-fructose corn syrup?

Re:Tangential Jab (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607101)

For the benefit of those of us unaware of any controversy, what kind of emotional response could be triggered by mentioning high-fructose corn syrup?

Disgust.

A shudder of disgust runs through me when I see a 400 pounder sucking on a Coca-Cola (basically a mixture of high-fructose corn syrup and water).

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607181)

A shudder of disgust runs through me when I see a 80 pounder sucking on Tea (basically a mixture of rotting leaves and water).

Mmmm sun Tea; I think I'll go make some.

Re:Tangential Jab (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607235)

It's not the HFCS that disgusts you in that case, though. It's the fatass American that does.

Re:Tangential Jab (4, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | about 2 years ago | (#39607123)

People have been claiming that HFCS is one of the root causes of the obestiy epidemic. Is fructose bad for you? [harvard.edu]

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607661)

In fairness, ordinary sugar (50% Fructose, 50% Glucose, as a disaccharide that gets cleaved by enzymes) is more or less the same thing as HFCS (55% Fructose, 45% Glucose, as a syrup of the component monosaccharides). HFCS gets a bad rap compared to sugar because "fructose" is in its name. Both are bad.

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607125)

It's a bogey-man for tin-foil hatters.

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607195)

It's yet another object of ridicule from the head-in-the-sanders.

Re:Tangential Jab (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39607327)

You've avoided the HFCS controversy? People who like organic and hate Monsanto also tend to hate High Fructose Corn Syrup. They decry government policies, and go out of their way to drink real-sugar soda (usually imported from Mexico) because it is better for you, and tastes slightly different. HFCS is blamed for everything from childhood obesity to diabetes to cancer. *Republicans* like HCFS (or *democrats*, if you're on the other side of the spectrum, though that type seems to be rarer).

There are a lot of studies showing that HFCS is really bad for you. This shouldn't be surprising, since it is sugar, and sugar is really bad for you. HFCS opponents try to parse the results of studies to show that HFCS is much worse than sugar. In reality it probably doesn't matter much since both are bad for you, and frankly both sugar Coke and HFCS Coke are vile tasting.

Re:Tangential Jab (1, Interesting)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#39607077)

I get the feeling including HFCS so prominently in the story is more about triggering an emotional response in readers.

And?

Isn't it the job of an editor to trigger an emotional response in a reader, in order to increase viewership?

Or should commercial media outlets reduce their viewership?

Remember, this website isn't academia.

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607109)

Yeah, nothing wrong with deliberately misrepresenting the facts in order to get everyone in an uproar. That's their job. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm missing Fox News.

Re:Tangential Jab (5, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#39607711)

It's not misrepresenting, though it is highlighting indirectly significant information.

The poison gets to the bees through High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
The poison gets into the HFCS from corn that's resistant to pesticide.
The corn that's resistant to pesticide is grown from seeds sold by Monsanto.
Ordinary corn wouldn't lead to this, because that much pesticide would have killed it.
Ordinary sugar wouldn't lead to this, because it's not from a crop that's drenched in the implicated pesticide.

So HFCS is a critical link.

Gotta be a Democrat. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607173)

muzumder shows all the signs.

We kind sorta maybe maybe not definitely know that W dodged the draft, so let's generate an emotional response by faking documents.

People aren't reacting strongly enough to global warming, so let's "hide the decine".

"Stand your ground" is a vile law, so let's lynch George Zimmerman and never let the public know that Trayvon martin is a gangsta wannabe who was beating the crap out of him.

We have to trigger an emotional respon=se or else we'll probably lose.

Re:Tangential Jab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607149)

Well I had no idea people started feeding bees with HFCS. Have I known, I wouldn't need a study to point out the culprit.

Re:Tangential Jab (4, Insightful)

nebosuke (1012041) | about 2 years ago | (#39607307)

No, if you RTFA, you can see that the link to HFCS is prominently featured because it explains the lag between imidacloprid introduction (1990s) to widespread observance of CCD (2006) because feeding hives with HFCS was not a widespread practice until then. Because the corn from which it is produced is often sprayed with imidacloprid, the HFCS contains trace amounts of imidacloprid well below safe limits for humans, and even below LD50 for the bees, but apparently sufficient to incur CCD over time. A related study described in the second linked article suggests that the class of pesticides to which imidacloprid belongs (neonicotinoids) interfere with the bees' homing ability, which explains the characteristic lack of dead adults in a colony that has suffered CCD--the adults apparently get lost while foraging and can't find their way back to the hive.

What I find most striking is that CCD did not seem to be much of a problem in the 90s when imidacloprid was introduced, which implies that bees are fine with it being sprayed on crops, but cannot tolerate even minute (measured in double digit parts per billion) traces when it is fed to them (in this case, via HFCS).

Re:Tangential Jab (1)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | about 2 years ago | (#39607463)

I think including the delivery method of the pesticide is sort of important for the summary. It's pretty obvious that pesticide kills bugs; what is not obvious is that HFCS contains trace amounts of pesticides.

Re:Tangential Jab (2)

canajin56 (660655) | about 2 years ago | (#39607645)

So you think the interesting part is that insecticide kills insects, and the fact that HFCS contains various insecticides in significant amounts is both obvious and beside the point?

How soon before something is done about it though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607099)

Even if there is proof pesticides are causing colony collapse, good luck in getting anything done about it until it's too late. It's happened too many times in the past that evidence is found that some chemical is bad for people or the environment (smoking, CFCs... there are many more examples) but lobbyists representing the makers of the pollutant manage to hold back any change in the law until the evidence against them is absolutely overwhelming.

Re:How soon before something is done about it thou (4, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#39607175)

Pretty soon once bee keepers start sourcing non-pesticide-laced feed for their bees.

If I were a milk producer and fed my cows a concoction that caused 90% of them to drop dead at the same time every two years I'd sure as hell look for a new feed source -- it could be fairly expensive even and the fact that I don't want to risk fundamental failure in my ability to survive would mean it's still a good deal for me.

Re:How soon before something is done about it thou (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#39607739)

This, however, is something that beekeepers can directly address. All they need to do is stop feeding their bees syrup made from high fructose corn syrup.

But... (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39607135)

I thought it was fungus [sciencedaily.com].

Re:But... (4, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | about 2 years ago | (#39607177)

That study shows correlation, not causation:

"At this stage, the study is showing an association of death rates of the bees with the virus and fungus present," Bilimoria said. "Our contribution to this study confirms association. But even that doesn't prove cause and effect. Not just yet."

The study in this article shows evidence of causation:

"Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health '...have re-created the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder in several honeybee hives simply by giving them small doses of a popular pesticide, imidacloprid.'"

It's easy to regurgitate that "correlation is not causation", but most people don't seem to quite understand what that sentence means.

Flawed (1, Insightful)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#39607137)

I read this article yesterday when it was in Firehose. While it may be reasonable that this pesticide is causing the problems, the article failed to specifically show a link to HFCS as the source of the problem. In particular, they apparently made no attempt to test the HFCS itself for pesticide levels. It is more likely that bees would get the pesticide directly via the environment than via highly processed corn product. Not to mention that maize corn is inside a husk, which should reduce the amount of pesticide in the kernels to begin with.

It's the scientific equivalent of saying "smoking causes cancer" + "cigarettes are sold in grocery stores" = "you can get cancer from going to a grocery store".

Re:Flawed (1)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#39607375)

I read this article yesterday when it was in Firehose. While it may be reasonable that this pesticide is causing the problems, the article failed to specifically show a link to HFCS as the source of the problem. In particular, they apparently made no attempt to test the HFCS itself for pesticide levels. It is more likely that bees would get the pesticide directly via the environment than via highly processed corn product. Not to mention that maize corn is inside a husk, which should reduce the amount of pesticide in the kernels to begin with.

It's the scientific equivalent of saying "smoking causes cancer" + "cigarettes are sold in grocery stores" = "you can get cancer from going to a grocery store".

They should test the corn syrup, of course, but your grocery store analogy is ridiculous. It would be closer to the study to say "cigarettes began selling at Safeway in 2005" + "Safeway customers who smoke started showing up in emergency rooms in 2006" + "You can get sick from buying cigarettes being sold at Safeway", which is pretty much how the CDC operates with any given outbreak. I guess they're real unscientific there and Harvard is just out to get "big corn", right? If I performed a Sendmail upgrade last Wednesday, then thousands of customers started calling into customer care complaining of SMTP connection failures last Thursday morning and I finally got wind of it the Monday after, I'd be sure to think it was something other than the Sendmail upgrade, right? Yeah, right. Time correlation and likely impact of changes matter....a lot.

Re:Flawed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607403)

"you can get cancer from going to a grocery store".

Only if you visit a store in California. (see also proposition 65)

Re:Flawed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607423)

Note the *systemic* nature of the pesticide, meaning that unlike sprayed-on surface pesticides it's absorbed by the plant and incorporated into it's tissues, the husk does nothing to shield the kernels in that case

Re:Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607625)

RTFA!! Both of them.

Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (2)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 2 years ago | (#39607141)

in 3, 2, 1

Re:Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39607237)

Why? Nothing in any of the studies links this to Monsanto or GMO crops.

Re:Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607325)

Except that Monsanto engineers crops to be more pesticide resistant, so that heavier levels of pesticide can be applied to corn, and then possibly transferred to the bees via HFCS.

Re:Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607591)

ARRGGHHH!!! STOP THE STUPID, YOU PEOPLE MAKE MY BRAIN HURT.

Don't confuse herbicide and insecticide, okay? They're different things. Different. Things.

Engineering plants to be pesticide (herbicide) resistant doesn't mean you apply heavier levels of pesticide (insecticide) to them!

Re:Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39607673)

You hurt your own cause by making claims like that. Hating on Monsanto and GMO crops is a separate issue; Roundup Ready crops are modified to be specifically resistant to a very low toxicity herbicide, has nothing to do with insecticides. I've never seen any study, even by the organic guys, that shows a problem with glyphosates [wikipedia.org].

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers glyphosate to be relatively low in toxicity, and without carcinogenic effects.[40] The EPA considered a "worst case" dietary risk model of an individual eating a lifetime of food entirely from glyphosate-sprayed fields, and with residue levels remaining at their maximum levels, and concluded no adverse effects would exist under these conditions

Re:Monsanto-sponsored smear campaign (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#39607577)

GMO plants is not the only thing Monsanto sells. In fact, it is not even the most important thing.

Pesticides are their main business, and their GMO crops exist mainly to suppport that business. They also sell fertilizers (they are what made Monsanto huge).

imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid pesticides (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607147)

Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid pesticides need to be banned immediately. Loss of bee colonies is one of the most important agricultural issues that is dramatically effecting yields. Its costing hundreds of billions of dollars in losses annually.

If bee colonies start to recover the problem will be solved and we can move on. The timing of the link is too much of a coincidence to be a chance event given the lab data. Too much money and food is at stake to wait. The ban must be immediate and total. Its not as if farmers couldn't profitably grow corn without it. There are other pesticides, but in general use of pesticides should be avoided to every extent possible as they are linked with so many other problems both ecological and human health related.

this is really good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607219)

Now we'll stop using this chemical, and the bees will recover. This is wonderful!
In some areas of the world, like in China, there are places where people pollinate
trees by hand, because all the bees are dead.

Meanwhile, I wonder if the CCD has killed all the Africanized bees. I thought they were supposed to be tough?

Re:this is really good news (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#39607589)

I doubt people feed High-Fructose Corn Syrup to bees at China. Nearly nobody out of the US uses it.

Re:this is really good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607677)

That's not true. It's used extensively in Europe as well. It's called glucose-fructose syrup over there.

Do bees like tobacco plants? (1)

nicoleb_x (1571029) | about 2 years ago | (#39607229)

Bees seem to be plenty willing to take nectar from tobacco plants so I'm having a hard time believing this study. Yes, I'm an imidacloprid fan but you can keep you HFCS.

Re:Do bees like tobacco plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607273)

Not a chemist, but I suspect the natural nectar produced by tobacco plants might not have the same effects as this man-made pesticide.

Re:Do bees like tobacco plants? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39607319)

That's exactly what the Harvard study points out. The bees aren't being poisoned by the nectar they gather, they're being poisoned by the HFCS that the bee keepers are feeding them (they take the honey that the bees produce and feed the bees sugar water as a replacement).

Re:Do bees like tobacco plants? (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#39607531)

This [nih.gov] would appear to indicate that the substance in question does not occur in tobacco nectar, nor anywhere else in nature:

"The invention of imidacloprid, the most important neonicotinoid insecticide, was initiated by replacement of the framework of nithiazine with an imidazolidine ring."

Re:Do bees like tobacco plants? (5, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 2 years ago | (#39607575)

Imidacloprid is considered neonicotinoid, but its biochemical effects should not be compared to natural nicotine. Just as humans do, insects have a couple of different types of receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, including a nicotinic receptor. Insect physiology favors the nicotinic receptor pathway such that some insectides which are mildly toxic to humans are extremely poisonous to insects. Nicotine can activate these receptors temporarily, which is responsible for its physiological effects. However, imidacloprid irreversibly binds to the nicotinic receptor, which blocks acetylcholine transmission and leads to the insect's death. It appears that sublethal concentrations may still cause significant impairment, similar to myasthenia gravis.

Doctor Who must now redo the Agatha Christie ep (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607245)

Without the subplot of bees being aliens that vacate the planet.

of course, no links between autism (1, Flamebait)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#39607275)

and the radical experimentation going on in our food supply. nope.

This reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607381)

This reminds me of the plot of Batman (the one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson)

Also, AUTISM

one has to wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39607401)

If pesticide-laden hfcs is having this impact on bee colonies, what is it doing to human beings given the prevalence of hfcs in modern 'diet'?

Re:one has to wonder... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39607557)

If pesticide-laden hfcs is having this impact on bee colonies, what is it doing to human beings given the prevalence of hfcs in modern 'diet'?

Bees are important to the economy. People aren't important enough for anyone to get excited about.

Re:one has to wonder... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39607669)

Dunno. This may explain why the general population can't navigate it's way out of a paper bag.

"Turn left at the next stop sign."

"No! Left! Not Right, turn Left!"

and so on....

What did they feed the bees before HFCS? (1)

blindseer (891256) | about 2 years ago | (#39607475)

The article did not mention what was used to feed the bees before the beekeepers switched over to HFCS. Did they feed them honey?

I'm also a bit concerned about these pesticides showing up in my food. I'm not so naive as to think that all my food was free from pesticides before HFCS was put into everything, but I'm a bit concerned that the same pesticide is in just about every food I eat.

If the bees are feeding on pesticide laced food then how much of that pesticide is showing up in my honey?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...