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September 20th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Bees and pesticides (and not just insecticides) have been the focus of activists and scientists alike, particularly since a 2006-2008 wave of Colony Collapse Disorder, during which millions of domestic honeybees disappeared.

For a few years, environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council claimed that insecticides, particularly a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, were the problem. In 2016, the Sierra Club said (while requesting donations):

“Bees had a devastating year. 44% of colonies killed…and Bayer and Syngenta are still flooding your land with bee-killing toxic ‘neonic’ pesticides—now among the most widely used crop sprays in the country.”

But more recently, the same organization posted a different message on its blog:

“Honeybees are at no risk of dying off. While diseases, parasites and other threats are certainly real problems for beekeepers, the total number of managed honeybees worldwide has risen 45% over the last half century.”

As reported by the Genetic Literacy Project and other news and scientific bodies, the crisis of honeybee loss turned around to be overblown, and the connection to neonics false:

“A 2014 report in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ETC) reviewed bee health over multiple years and reached a similar conclusion: “The epidemiological evidence from Europe shows no correlation of honeybee losses to pesticide use and indicates the presence of causal factors other than pesticides.” Read more