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EU To Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the bees-threatened-to-sting-them-to-death dept.

EU 219

PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that the EU has voted to ban pesticides containing neonicotinoids for at least two years, in an effort to isolate the cause of CCD (colony collapse disorder; the alarming disappearance of bees over recent years). Despite intense lobbying by the chemical companies, a 3-million signature petition helped swing the vote in favor of the ban."

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Whoa (3, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#43586155)

I read that as "Neocon Insectoids."

Damn caribbean rum...

Re:Whoa (0)

GM Enthusiast (917001) | about a year ago | (#43586361)

I thought it said Neocon Insecticide. I thought, "Hey! I want that! We could all use a good helping of it in this country!"

You sure you want to go there? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586765)

Let me see. "Neocons" are largely Jewish conservatives. They are called "neo" instead of just plain conservatives because traditionally conservatives hadn't been too friendly to Jewish people as in "restricted" clubs, attribution of conspiracies in the style of the John Birch Society, and the whole Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh America First thing.

Neoconservatives are pretty hawkish on foreign policy, many having family connections to those who perished in the camps, and the hawkishness is driven by the historical view "If only someone had stood up to German militarism early on before it was impossible to resist."

Your remarks of what "we could all use a good helping of in this country" -- wasn't an industrial insecticide gas already tried as a means of silencing those of the "wrong" politics and "wrong" ethnicity?

Does a person know how certain remarks can be interpreted, and do people "want to go there"? If a person does "want to go there", my own ethnicity was "in whose name" many terrible, terrible things were done, and I think I need to find another place besides Slashdot to "hang out."

And yes, I am posting anonymously and I am a coward for it.

Re:You sure you want to go there? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586825)

What kind of drugs are you on? Dubya Bush is a neocon. Cheney is a neocon. So is Rush Limbaugh.

Re:You sure you want to go there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587395)

Neo-cons has multiple meanings. However, the original meant those that were dems who converted to conservatives (republicans).
Now, it pretty much means the followers of reagan and W.
Roughly, the later is like being called a NAZI.

3 Million Sigantures?! (3, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year ago | (#43586169)

How cow, if that doesn't show the lawmakers which votes they won't be getting... I don't know what will.

US Take note, this has shown that even though Big Business is behind something, voters can say "No".

True (1, Interesting)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#43586267)

And possibly why slavery lasted so long in the US. Eventually it was force that brought the voting public to see logic and reasoning.

Re:True (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586345)

Our desire to be deciders of our own destiny certainly has strong ties to the very core of our emotional being, but I'd argue that it does not stem from any rational thought process, and from that perspective, I'd suggest that abolishing slavery was not a particularly logical thing to do. Slavery can impose a rigid and predictable order, which from a strictly logical perspective, can actually be highly desirable. Of course, countless other things that are important to quality of life aren't very logical either... so I wouldn't ever dream of saying that abolishing slavery was actually a bad idea. Only that it wasn't really a logical one.

Re:True (3, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43586363)

Slavery has been shown over and over to be a poor economic system. Workers work better when well treated. Henry Ford paid more than any other business and it made him filthy rich. Slaves make poor workers and that includes wage slaves.

Re:True (0)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#43586457)

Ford's success was practically a one off. He took advantage of the times when workers were seen as mere resources by most and treated them as personell to be respected. The trend today, at least in the US, is a return to viewing workers as mere fodder for the line to profitability.

Re:True (0, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43586935)

You're leaving out about 70 years of history in which many companies and leaders emulated Ford's leadership.

"Our most valuable asset is our people."

The trend today is in the opposite direction, yes, and where is our economy headed? Down the drain, of course.

Re:True (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586467)

The reason it's a poor economic system is because human beings aren't particularly logical in the first place. It's only "logical" if you define something which appeals to a trait inherent to the human condition (in this case, the desire for self-direction and freedom), even if that trait is completely irrational, to be "logical".

Illogical does not remotely mean less desirable, and in fact, quite often the exact opposite is true.

Re:True (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43586475)

Slavery has been shown over and over to be a poor economic system. Workers work better when well treated. Henry Ford paid more than any other business and it made him filthy rich. Slaves make poor workers and that includes wage slaves.

It's a lot harder to recline in feudal satisfaction at the end of the day, though, if the world doesn't have squalid serfs sweating their little lives away at your whim...

(Unfortunately, I'm only half joking. Especially before things like 'modern medicine' and 'flush toilets' and 'central heating', the delta in actual well-being between a 'not-malnourished peasant' and 'king' pretty much came down to leisure time and how many people would bow and scrape and lick your boots for you. Technology has increased the number of goods that aren't directly social-status based; but feeling high-status is still very much a matter of having somebody to look down on.)

For better or worse (0, Offtopic)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#43586403)

It did however force the southern US states to industrialize agriculture, which provided a steady revenue stream for northern manufacturers.

Re:True (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586877)

That is mildly the basis of communism.

Re:True (-1)

TrollstonButtersbean (2890693) | about a year ago | (#43586945)

Please don't do the boring "Europe is smarter" thing. If you guys were so smart historically, Europeans wouldn't have fled to the Americas to start a new life in the 1700s through 1800s and we wouldn't have had to bail your chestnuts out of the fire in WWI, WWII and with the Soviet Empire.

If you want to be "superior" don't talk, just prove it ...

You can do this by solving Greece's problems, or Italy's or Spain's or get major credit and "solve" Iran or North Korea.

Talk is cheap, if you want to be "superior", lead by example and solve some problems in this world for real ... instead of talking it up --- anyone can do that and talk is cheap.

Re:True (1)

tsa (15680) | about a year ago | (#43587135)

The examples you show are from decades ago. These days the US makes the problems and now you say we have to solve them. We have our hands full of the experiment running out of hand that the Euro turned out to be.

Re:True (1)

TrollstonButtersbean (2890693) | about a year ago | (#43587371)

Go win that fight. I think most informed people understand the underlying issues with the Euro.

Re:3 Million Sigantures?! (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#43586587)

Shows how much people like honey if you ask me.

Re:3 Million Sigantures?! (5, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43586963)

Honey? That's all you think of when the subject of bees is brought up?

With some notable exceptions, all of your vegetables and fruits are pollinated by honey bees. They all come from FLOWERING PLANTS, which require some agent to move pollen from plant to plant flower to flower. No pollen, no fruit - it's that simple.

Mankind has largely killed off butterflies, and any other "pests" that might have performed the job of pollination. All that is left is the honey bee - which, of course, has been the most efficient agent of pollination for all of human history.

If you like eating, especially if you like having any kind of variety in your diet, then you depend on honey bees. Even if you're allergic to all bee products, you still depend on bees. (never heard of anyone being allergic to honey - I just threw that out there)

Re:3 Million Sigantures?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587057)

For what it's worth, I know someone who is allergic to honey. But let me carefully qualify that as being allergic to "organic" non-pasteurized honey. My friend is allergic to a few proteins found in bee venom and also in smaller quantities in thier regurgitated nectar supplies and hence in the final product. He is also allergic to many, many sources of pollens, which are ubiquitous in real un-pasteurized honey. Most honey we buy at the store is carefully filtered to remove as much of the pollens as possible and then pasteurized to kill anything that's left. (sadly, this also makes fake, adulterated or source-concealed honey not only possible, but a real problem in the commodity honey business)

Re:3 Million Sigantures?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587411)

Nailed it. Here's the Reader's Digest version:

No bees, no eat.

(That ought to be simple enough even for the average slashdotter to follow.)

Re: 3 Million Sigantures?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587361)

I hope the U will follow suit. Big business? Let's see, they sell us pesticides, then sell us GMOs, they have huge government contracts, we can thank them for shit like agent orange.... We require metric ass tons of pesticides for cotton(don't quite me on the conversion) where hemp would not use close to the same... We need more than a million votes, that would be easy with all the hippies. We need pressure from the UN and the rest of the world.

Oh, good (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586171)

I'm happy to see that this important decision was made based on sound science.

Or maybe it was made by weighing corporate lobbying against petition signing. That's probably fine too. After all, it's not like this was an important decision that should have been made based on sound science.

Re:Oh, good (5, Interesting)

alittlebitdifferent (728326) | about a year ago | (#43586301)

The decision is the science...we should test this hypothesis by removal of the chemical from the environment.....then we review. Talking about doing science but not actually doing anything isn't really science in my opinion. In a lab, it is easy to test into bankruptcy without drawing any definitive conclusion as the natural environment cannot be 100% replicated. Removing it from the _actual) environment is the only true test (in my opinion) and using this approach we are actually performing a scientific activity on which to base future decisions.

Re:Oh, good (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43586545)

You don't even have to remove the chemicals from the environment. They aren't used around bee pollinated crops anyway. The chemicals come from thousands of miles away.

Beekeeper greed induced them to winter their bees using corn syrup so that they could sell off more honey. The production of corn syrup did not remove the pesticides completely, and beekeepers started feeding that to their colonies.

Long life pesticides should not survive food production, but because it was harmless to humans, nobody was watching too closely when beekeepers started raiding the honey and substituting corn syrup. [latimes.com]

Re:Oh, good (5, Interesting)

Meshugga (581651) | about a year ago | (#43586755)

We don't use corn syrup in europe, as it's production is limited and you can't buy it in stores. Solutions of white sugar or molasses are commonly used by beekeepers around here.

Re:Oh, good (5, Interesting)

arf_barf (639612) | about a year ago | (#43586901)

A friend of mine has 20 bee hives on his property (Norther Europe). He has been doing this for over 20 years as a hobby and was also affected by various colony disorders from parasites to full on collapses. A few years back, he made an experiment and did not remove honey from the hives (it was a last resort). Surprisingly some of the colonies fully recovered. Anyhow, 20 hives is a very tiny data sample, but it does make you wonder...

Re:Oh, good (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587143)

here's another data point: My mother had at one time as many as 8 hives in rural southern Ontario, Canada. On one occasion, she lost 2 or 3 hives to some fungal infection (the details escape me) and in another year she lost some to mites before buying more mite resistant breeds. Not only did she never feed her bees on any substitute, much of the time she wouldn't harvest as great a percentage of the honey through the season as commericial honey producers do. Her hives were also located in an area with a high proportion of dairy farms, many of them Mennonite farms, so her hives would have had far less exposure to commercial crop pesticides and herbecides. She never once experienced colony collapse, always had a higher survival rate from the various perils than most of the other honey producers in her local cooperative. Anecdotally, she claimed that her hives would usually be able to replace the honey she harvested faster than other hives in the cooperative.

As a working theory; it does seem plausible that working hives to the very limit puts a great deal of stress on the colony, leaving them more vulnerable to mites, fungus, pesticides et al. In addition, people laud honey for it's anti-microbial properties, so it seems quite reasonable to suppose that it provides some medicinal effect for the bees that sugar solutions just can't match. Tale away all of the good food, feed them only substitutes and as little of possible of that and it doesn't surprise me at all that they are far more vulnerable to environmental threats.

Re:Oh, good (2, Informative)

AtomicDevice (926814) | about a year ago | (#43587487)

It's not magic, honey has a low ph and high osmotic pressure (i.e. high sugar/water ratio) which lend it's antimicrobial properties. Plenty of beekeepers feed a solution of sugar similar in concentration and ph to their bees.

Re:Oh, good (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43587215)

Your friend's experiment strikes me as very interesting. I hope someone else is looking at that.

Re:Oh, good (5, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43587257)

Your friend's experiment strikes me as very interesting. I hope someone else is looking at that.

Some beekeepers here in Ontario has been doing the same thing. My cousin's commonlaw is a beekeeper. He suffered the parasite/hive collapse problem too, and instead of raiding the hive, he left them alone for two years. Surprisingly about 70% of his hives recovered, or were recoverable with the introduction of a new queen. This is on a small scale of around 50 hives. He's up around 300 hives now. The other 30% were lost due to parasites, and in one case a rather grumpy bear.

Re:Oh, good (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43587187)

Re: Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup specifically) - it is probably available to food industry manufacturers and others through specialized supply chains. It isn't really a store shelf product, although corn oil is.

As an aside, if you have a tolerance for shtick you might find these guys interesting, maybe not.

Meshugga Beach Party - Shalom Alechem [youtube.com]
Meshugga Beach Party - Zemer Atik [youtube.com]

Re:Oh, good (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43587353)

Re: Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup specifically) - it is probably available to food industry manufacturers and others through specialized supply chains. It isn't really a store shelf product [...]

Yes, it really is: http://karosyrup.com/products.html [karosyrup.com]

Re:Oh, good (3, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43587517)

According to their FAQ, Karo is corn syrup, but not high fructose corn syrup, which is a modified corn syrup to change some of the sugars. You did make a good catch though - I had forgotten about them. [ Barely saved by a technicality. ;) ]

Karo FAQ [karosyrup.com] (Reversed the order for clarity)

Q. Do any of Karo's Corn Syrup products used in baking that are sold in retail stores contain high fructose corn syrup?

A. No. When Karo was first introduced in 1902, it contained 0 grams of high fructose corn syrup. Like the original, all Karo Corn Syrup products used in baking that you can purchase today contain 0 grams of high fructose corn syrup. Karo will never add high fructose corn syrup to current consumer products or introduce new corn syrup products containing high fructose corn syrup.

Q. What is high fructose corn syrup and how is it different from regular corn syrup?

A. High fructose corn syrup starts with regular corn syrup (glucose only), which is modified by further processing and treated with enzymes to break it into two different forms of sweetness, fructose and glucose. In contrast, corn syrup is a sweetener derived from fresh corn picked and processed at its peak for flavor and sweetness. This is the ingredient in all Karo Corn Syrup products used for baking and sold in retail stores.

Re:Oh, good (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43587047)

The famous Harvard study is a little dubious in my humble opinion because it didn't include any measurement of the levels of pesticide in hfcs, nor did it involve actually feeding pesticide dosed hfcs to bees.

Re:Oh, good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587243)

Also correlation does not equal causation! So many fucking retarded scientific hoaxes have been perpetrated because so few people understand this simple fact.

Re:Oh, good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587457)

Correlation does equal causation, both statements are true. Just missing some conditions there. Say you repeatedly hit your head with a hammer, it would be right to correlate it with the pain in your head. But if your were walking, saw a shooting star and felt a pain in your left knee, no that does mean the shooting star caused it.

Re:Oh, good (5, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43587053)

I had heard that before. I can't say how much of a factor it is in the decimation of bee populations.

I do know that all the "tests" of these insecticides were flawed. And, I do know that Bayer stands up and declares all other studies on the subject are flawed, while declining to perform new tests, and blocking independent tests.

The fact is, approval for Bayer's insecticides were given a bum rush through the original approval process here in the states, with no independent testing. The ONLY testing introduced to the approval process were Bayer's own flawed studies, performed in Canada.

In effect, we took Bayer's word that their product was safe.

Some interesting reading here: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Are-Neonicotinoids-Killing-Bees_Xerces-Society1.pdf [xerces.org]

Question - should a seasonal insecticide remain in the soil for six years and more?
Question - should insecticides spread far beyond the target fields and crops?
Question - should the insecticide be systemic, being taken into every part of the plant along with the plant's nutrients?

Many people believe that you can just wash the insecticides off of the produce when you bring it home from the farmer's market. With nonicotinoids, the poison is in every cell of the plant. The only way to "wash it off" is to flush the entire fruit or vegetable down the sewer. You WILL eat the poison if you eat the produce!!

Re:Oh, good (4, Insightful)

AtomicDevice (926814) | about a year ago | (#43587521)

Forget about "greedy" beekeepers - neonicotiniods are indiscriminate insecticides. They'll kill any pollinator unlucky enough to be on the wrong plant. You know, pollinators that pollinate crops, maybe you heard about pollination, it's this crazy thing that makes your food exist.

This isn't just a beekeeper issue, plenty of farmers depend on bees (almond growers, blueberries, oranges, etc) to pollinate their crop. The california almond crop isn't a crop at all without migratory bees.

In other news: these pesticides are chronic toxins, they build up in bees until the whole colony keels over. There's other not-so-long-lived insecticides (i.e. organophosphate) that can be safely used even where bees are going to be, because it breaks down quickly, and unless the bees receive a lethal dose, they'll be able to pass the toxin.

Whine about beekeeper's all you want, you're still pissing in the well if you think using nonspecific pesticides are going to do anything other than breed tougher bugs. Why do we keep having to develop nastier and nastier pesticides anyways? Because pests are becoming resistant to all the old ones because of overuse.

Re:Oh, good (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43586561)

Except that doing that necessarily reduces our quality of life (if neonictinoid insecticides didn't improve agriculture they wouldn't be used) even if its just for X years. Its impossible to prove things with 100% certainty in the "real world" because nature isn't a lab which is why lots and lots and lots of testing in a controlled lab environment that replicates the "real world" as close to possible is necessary before you make any decisions on policy.

Any time you ban something, you are going to reduce people's quality of life which is why bans need to be fully tested. The idea of a "ban and see" approach should not be used because you are sacrificing people's quality of life for quite possibly nothing.

Burden of Proof (3, Insightful)

parabyte (61793) | about a year ago | (#43586691)

I do not see why the burden of proof that massive dissemination of poison is harmful should be with the public.

IMO those who manufacture and sell this stuff have to prove that it does not destroy our ecosystem.

I know, the stuff has been at some point been certified, but I think that every company that manufactures a product has an obligation to monitor if it is harmful even after it appears on the market. You simply can not determine the long term impact of wide use on the environment with a handful of studies,

p.

Re:Oh, good (3, Informative)

Meshugga (581651) | about a year ago | (#43586771)

No, it does not necessarily reduce anything. It isn't good for industrial agriculture - but who said industrial agriculture is "quality of life"?

Do you know that we are paying farmers not to grow too much crop?

Re:Oh, good (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43587067)

No, it won't affect quality of life. It will ONLY affect the profits of pesticide producers - primarily Bayer.

Re:Oh, good (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about a year ago | (#43587297)

Are we sure the decision is based on science and not emotion? After all, a lot of what people believe about organic foods, vitamins, vaccines, and herbal medicine is founded on bunk [badscience.net] but people still believe in it. Are we sure Neonicotinoid Insecticides are not being banned because they're man made and evil sounding?

Re:Oh, good (0)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year ago | (#43587445)

This hysteria surrounding GM crops and now the bee thing has always mystified me. Without those GMOs and without those pesticides, yields would be much lower. Technological advances have allowed mankind to multiply farm output per acre many times. Try feeding 7 billion people with mules and cow manure & purely "organic" methods.

Re:Oh, good (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43586339)

I thought the science asked for it, then the corporations shot it down (via political pressure) because it would affect profits, so the public raised up and demanded the politicians follow the science, and they did.

Re:Oh, good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586425)

Certainly the science was done. What is less clear is whether the politicians, who normally care more about lobbying and petitions than about science, actually used the science in making the decision.

Re:Oh, good (4, Informative)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#43586501)

Or, from the obvious article Colony Collapse Disorder [wikipedia.org]

These studies prompted a formal 2013 peer review by the European Food Safety Authority that said neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied is flawed.[12] CCD is probably compounded by a combination of factors.[13][14][15][16] In 2007, some authorities attributed the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites,[17] Nosema apis parasites, and Israel acute paralysis virus.[18][19] Other contributing factors may include environmental change-related stress,[20] malnutrition, and migratory beekeeping.

Yes, of course *sarcasm* the science is settled *sarcasm* I think the science is pretty good against bees using tobacco -- but moderate use of marijuana is usually considered to be generally harmless and occasionally beneficial.

Re:Oh, good (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43586537)

Any particular reason you chose the phrase 'sound science' rather than 'science' or 'ecological study' or any of the numerous other phrases that would have meant the same thing?

It's worth noting that that particular phrase has an... interesting... history, going back at least as far as Phillip Morris' pet 'Advancement of Sound Science Coalition', which gradually mutated toward a more general state of optimistic nescience about anything its funders happened to manufacture.

Re:Oh, good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586649)

Any particular reason you chose the phrase 'sound science' rather than 'science' or 'ecological study' or any of the numerous other phrases that would have meant the same thing?

Not unless you count alliteration as a "reason".

Re:Oh, good (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43586595)

Science hasn't been able to find the cause of CCD, and we don't have time to wait until it does. So we moved on to the next method, trial and error.

Re:Oh, good (4, Insightful)

jschrod (172610) | about a year ago | (#43586739)

> So we moved on to the next method, trial and error.

As long as trial is based on hypothesis [what's the plural?] and measurable predictions for outcome -- well, that's what was called (experimental) science when I studied, some decades ago.

Re:Oh, good (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43587095)

The hypothesis, basically, is that untested and poorly tested insecticides are responsible and/or contribute to CCD.

The measurable results of this test (removal of neonicotinoids from the food chain) should be easily measurable by an increase of healthy bee colonies within the next decade.

And, yes, it will take a decade to see the results - this pesticide stays in the soil for six years AND MORE.

http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Are-Neonicotinoids-Killing-Bees_Xerces-Society1.pdf [xerces.org]

Re:Oh, good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587117)

the plural of hypothesis is hypotheses

Re:Oh, good (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43587171)

"Science hasn't been able to find the cause of CCD"

I thought that the cause of CCDs was local politicians wanting to be Big Brother, especially in the UK.

So who was right? (-1)

MasseKid (1294554) | about a year ago | (#43586187)

So were the scientists at the chemical companies right or were the 3 million people who signed a petition right? Did an emotional outcry of ignorance just stop the use of something harmless? Guess we'll know in a couple of years... maybe.

Re:So who was right? (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43586463)

So were the scientists at the chemical companies right or were the 3 million people who signed a petition right? Did an emotional outcry of ignorance just stop the use of something harmless? Guess we'll know in a couple of years... maybe.

Good question. The consequence of delay in allowing the use of Neonicotinoid chemicals in this case is minimal. It seems the prudent thing to do.

There is good science behind this ban. A Harvard study [inhabitat.com] showed that these Neonicotinoids leak through the production chain of corn syrup, which beekeepers are using to winter their colonies. As soon as that news was out, many, if not most US beekeepers immediately switched back to Cane Sugar syrup, or leaving more Honey in the hives [latimes.com] for the bees instead of selling it off. The trend to feed bees corn syrup is not something that had been going on for all that long - since the 70s. But the addition of Neonicotinoid chemicals is fairly new.

The pesticides are not actually used on or near crops normally pollinated by bees. It was found to be creeping in through the corn syrup. These pesticides are not harmful to humans (as far as we know) so the regulations governing their presence in industrial corn syrup were simply too lax. It remains to be seen if they can be refined out of corn syrup.

Re:So who was right? (5, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43586735)

"The pesticides are not actually used on or near crops normally pollinated by bees."

Bullshit. All over California, citrus crops are sprayed regularly with neonicotinoid pesticides. During my contract work with the state, I applied pesticides within a few miles of apiaries.

They don't give two fucks. They're too worried about trying to contain the asian citrus psyllid to think about anything else.

Re:So who was right? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586841)

this is the EU we are talking about, they do not use corn syrup their, there are also lots of rather serious consequences for delaying the use of neonicotinoid chemicals, those consequences are the use of older less effective and more harmful chemicals as a substitute. The Bee decline has also been shown to not be happening in other countries (eg. Australia) where these chemicals are also extensively being used.

Re:So who was right? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586525)

Ask the bee keepers, they've moaned about this stuff for years and have lost most of their stock. Scientists working for the companies are not to be trusted, if they were, we'd all be smoking 40 a day.

There is also no need to increase yield in the EU, the farmers can grow more than can be consumed and are paid to not grow crops due to the food mountains.

Re:So who was right? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43587105)

Again - the "scientists" at Bayer performed flawed studies, and rushed their "results" through the approval process. No independent studies were performed prior to agencies such as the US' FDA approval of Bayer's insecticides.

There is zero indication that real science was involved in testing. There is every indication that marketing drove what little "testing" was done.

Next weeks news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586189)

Cartel of chemical companies lobby for new draft legislation to improve agricultural efficiency in the EU with wonderfuloids.

Small print "We'll stop u slaves from having milk and honey if our lives depend on it."

Is that how we make decisions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586241)

Really? Despite intense lobbying by those whose best interests are at stake? Cry me a river.

Re:Is that how we make decisions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586519)

lets get 6 million sigs next time.

Thank goodness they found something to try.. (-1, Troll)

alittlebitdifferent (728326) | about a year ago | (#43586263)

Time will tell if it works. Then decisions can be revised. I'd also be interested to know if anyone has done a study of the effects of wireless communications on bees. Its interesting that the timing of CCD bee problems somewhat overlap with the massive take up of mobile phones and related supporting infrastructure not to mention Wifi and spread spectrum.

Re:Thank goodness they found something to try.. (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43586495)

Wireless communication FUD has been debunked. Completely.

Neonicotinoid chemicals on the other hand are a new field of study that has been tested by simply removing the source of these chemicals from the bee hives. It was creeping in not from the fields, but from the Beekeepers themselves [latimes.com] . That too was greed, this time on the part of the beekeepers.

Hmmmm (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#43587475)

As interesting as that linked story was, I didn't see your capsule summary in it. The story talks about many factors, about two products that bees find in nature that turn on their natural defenses (but are not found in nectar). Quoting from the story: "People would love to have the one solution, but the problems is it really does seem like itâ(TM)s a combination of factors". I'd encourage people to read the story themselves.

National Pollinator Week (5, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43586273)

Although bees are endangered, they aren't the only ones pollinating.

Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 17 - 23, 2013! [fws.gov]

These hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops. Often we may not notice the hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies that carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar. Yet without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and we would miss many fruits, vegetables, and nuts, like blueberries, squash, and almonds . . . not to mention chocolate and coffeeall of which depend on pollinators. . .

Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife. Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.

In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010. . . more [fws.gov]

Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees [boisestate...cradio.org]

Re:National Pollinator Week (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43586435)

One thing to keep in mind is that honeybees are not native to the Americas. They are an import. Brought over in 1622 by European colonists.

This means indigenous American vegetation is not dependent on honeybees for fertilization.

Re:National Pollinator Week (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43586575)

Indigenous American vegetation depends on hfcsbees.

Re:National Pollinator Week (4, Funny)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#43587025)

> This means indigenous American vegetation is not dependent on honeybees for fertilization.

And what percent of the food in an average American shopping cart is actually derived from indigenous American vegetation? You know, all those alien foods from places like Europe & Asia that we eat here... lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, wheat, oats, rice, etc.

Man does not live by ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, and nacho chips alone, even if it IS possible to make it through a Saturday picnic consuming little else besides beef ;-)

Re:National Pollinator Week (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587189)

Tomatoes and Potatoes are both derived from indigenous american vegetation, though not north american vegetation, potatoes are a root crop and don't need pollination in order to produce, the grass crops(wheat, oats, rice) are obviously wind pollinated so bees aren't an issue there either.
I think i recall hearing that bumblebees are quite good for tomato pollination.

Re:National Pollinator Week (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about a year ago | (#43587287)

Tomatoes [wikipedia.org] and potatoes [wikipedia.org] are indigenous to the Americas.

Not a complete ban (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586297)

This class of pesticides will still be permitted (in most countries) for use on crops that bees have no interest in.

These pesticides are extremely effective and yet very benign (as long as you're not a bee). It would be unfortunate if they were entirely banned.

Re:Not a complete ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586505)

This,
An outright ban would be very poorly chosen. The research still isn't really clear. This is probably a decent approach, but we'll see if it helps, or works at all.

Out of the frying pan.... (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43586303)

So neonicintinoids of unknown bee toxicity and better cost effectiveness are going to be replaced by older pesticides of unknown bee toxicity and worse cost effectiveness.

Quite an experiment they are embarking on.

I don't think this will be over any time soon.

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43586391)

The older pesticides are of unknown bee toxicity, but "provably" less. The bee populations didn't drop under their use. Bee pop did decrease under use of the new one. Whether cause or not, we don't know, but we know the older ones had a "better" correlation with goo bee health.

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43586611)

Correlations don't prove much, especially causality. There are other major variables here including the Varroa destructor, climate change, bee nutrition issues and the fact that there are places using neonicitinoids (say Australia) that aren't suffering from bee colony declines.

France (for 10 years), Italy and Germany have already tried various bans on neonicitinoids and didn't find bee population improvements.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22339191 [bbc.co.uk]

It's an unsettled scientific problem.

âoeIf you want those perfect European apples, with no marks or bugs on them, Iâ(TM)m afraid farmers will have to spray something,â Mr. Neumann said, âoeand many of the older pesticides are even worse than the neonicotinoids.â

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/business/global/hoping-to-save-bees-europe-to-vote-on-pesticide-ban.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#43587037)

Yeah, that was my first question: If not neonicitinoids, what will get sprayed instead? There's probably a good reason why we're not using that stuff now.

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43587065)

Correlations don't prove anything but the negative. You put water in a glass in the freezer, and it freezes. You put water in a glass on the counter and it doesn't freeze. That indicates (proof, by many's standards) that putting water in the glass didn't cause the freezing of the water.

They don't know what they can do, so they are doing something that's "provably" not worse than today, in an attempt to help isolate the cause and address the issue. I haven't followed the issue too closely, bees are fine here, and I have no idea what we use for pesticides.

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587161)

That indicates (proof, by many's standards) that putting water in the glass didn't cause the freezing of the water

Clearly you're ignoring all of the confounding variables that are working to prevent the water from spontaneously freezing due to being placed in a glass.</averagegamescauseviolenceargument>

Re:Out of the frying pan.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587375)

You can't use Australia in any examples. Its insects are resistant to all known methods of death.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2003/07/07/896763.htm
And they have effective gun control and healthcare systems.

I think lawmakers in the EU realized... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586349)

that if they vote no and allow the issue to get worse, that money may not matter because everyone will be dead.

Bees are serious fucking business.

apparently, "nicotine" is bad for bees too... (3, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#43586531)

In case you didn't know, these "neo-nicotinoid" insectides are basically engineered substitutes for nicotine that affect insects more than people (as opposed to the normal nicotine that affects people more than insects). As I understand it, if an insect eats get too much of this chemical, their nervous systems basically stop working (it overloads certiain receptors so they stop propogating signals), and the insects become paralyzed and eventually they die. Apparently it doesn't get past the blood-brain barrier on most vertibrates, so it isn't too toxic to us (or so they say)...

Typically bees don't eat plants, so in theory they are affected less by this, but it seems plausible to me that bees would be affect by this as well as I imagine insectides cannot be applied perfectly, and sustained exposure can't be a good thing.

I have no idea how low-level exposure would affect a bee, but given how nicotine exposure affects humans, maybe there's something there...

Re:apparently, "nicotine" is bad for bees too... (1)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#43586583)

I have no idea how low-level exposure would affect a bee, but given how nicotine exposure affects humans, maybe there's something there...

Here you go:
http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/04/07/167230/colony-collapse-disorder-linked-to-pesticide-high-fructose-corn-syrup [slashdot.org]

Re:apparently, "nicotine" is bad for bees too... (3, Informative)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | about a year ago | (#43586999)

The theory is that sub-lethal levels confuse bee navigation. In many solitary insects that wouldn't be much of a problem, they just carry on eating and breeding wherever they land. Social insects tend to die if they cant find the their home hive.

Sub lethal levels don't directly kill them but kill them indirectly at much lower concentrations. If the chemicals industry even noticed the direct effect they wouldn't necessarily ever see the indirect mortality, they wouldn't speculate on it and arguably wouldn't report it anyway.

CCD and parasites (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about a year ago | (#43586571)

At least one site [beesfree.biz] seems to say that the single biggest contributor is a parasitic mite and a virus that it spreads.

The linked BBC article labels those as "merely" stress factors. It mentions - at the very end of the article, mind - that laboratory studies show that the compounds can do harm to bees ... but haven't been shown under field conditions. They COULD be much like the rats given artificial sweetener in order to help the market for the next artificial sweetener. Or, they could be spot on. (Hey, that's what Science is for, after all. Answering questions and creating new ones.)

It also quotes a Greenpeace activist as saying (about Monday's vote) "makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban." ... I didn't know votes affected science. I guess you learn something new every day.

"Colony collapse disorder" is nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586605)

"Limited occurrences resembling CCD have been documented as early as 1869 and this set of symptoms has, in the past several decades, been given many different names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease)" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

The science behind this decision seems awfully shaky!

What if (3, Interesting)

Progman3K (515744) | about a year ago | (#43586621)

What if you were a mega-corporation with unlimited funding, access to the brightest researchers in bio-engineering and you were trying to corner the world's food supply.

You'd start by controlling agriculture; you'd develop seeds that would only germinate once, for example, to slowly drive farmers out of business.

Next, you'd want to definitively stop people from producing food on their own, so you'd develop an artificial means of pollenisation and then develop something like say a virus or bacteria or even a toxic compound that you'd release into the environment to get rid of the top natural pollinators so the only crops that could grow would be under your control.

Of course no corporation would ever do something like that, no one is that evil, right?

Still, it makes a nice plot for an eventual James Bond or other science-fiction...

Re:What if (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43586743)

Of course no corporation would ever do something like that, no one is that evil, right?

Rewatch The Matrix: We are already at war with the amoral intangible thought machines -- Corporations.

Nah, too realistic for James Bond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43586811)

With the exception of the recent bond (I've not seen the latest one) those movies are never realistic. Adult cartoon with real actors; although, some of them make cartoons look realistic.

The real super villains are in groups where the loss of the leader doesn't change things a whole lot. The plot is complex and the crimes much more evil. The Bond about controlling the water supply was spot on and is an exception. If they want to continue into gritty reality they'll look at Monsanto and the private spy industry with mercenaries.

Re:What if (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#43587239)

You're forgetting something important: the value to such a company of stopping people from producing food on their own is basically zero. OK, a little more than zero, but it's basically lost in the the margin of error. For every survivalist family of doomsday preppers growing their own organic food off-grid on a farm in Idaho, there are ~24,000 families that haven't eaten food that didn't come from a restaurant or a microwave oven within the past week, and a few thousand more whose idea of baking bread from scratch consists of tearing open a box of Krusteaz & dumping it into the bread machine with a cup of water before going to bed.

The sum total annual output of every organic farm in America would be hard-pressed to supply a few expensive restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. Have you SEEN the price of a flawless, unblemished organic tomato at a grocery store? The price is off the scale, because that one randomly-lucky bug-free tomato that ended up sealed in wax & cellophane at the grocery store had a few hundred neighbors that either got thrown away or made into spaghetti sauce because nobody would have bought them.

persistence (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43586917)

Is the compound persistent? If it is, then it may still harm bees even after two years of ban, leading to the conclusion that it was innocent.

This is what they are talking about (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#43587009)

For the curious, this is a neonicotinoid insecticide:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid [wikipedia.org]

It is neonicotinoid because it resembles nicotine:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine [wikipedia.org]

Which is why some organic pesticide tea recipes call for steeping plug chewing tobacco in water and using that extract on your plants.

Re:This is what they are talking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587455)

Back when we kept a big family garden we used to spray the nicotine water on our leafy plants to control various critters. Worked well. Garlic also works for some stuff. These were not the only measures we took, of course. All in all, we used maybe a dozen things including plants and bugs to control pests.

What do the birds have to say about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587317)

I mean, it's always been about the birds and the bees hasn't it?

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