Bees and pesticides

Bees and pesticides

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Compilation of scientific evidence of the impacts of pesticides on bees. Petition before the DESCA Rapporteurship of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The decline in pollinators beyond a fact causes clear adverse consequences that affect multiple sectors. This is due to anthropic activities, whose magnitudes, although variable, are capable of causing drastic consequences. For one thing, species dependent on specific pollinators may simply go extinct. This interference in the evolution of species contributes to the loss of biodiversity. In other words, not only are pollinators being exterminated, but the species that depend on them will also become extinct. On the other hand, pollinators carry out activities that are also essential for the reproduction of species of importance for food, agriculture and industry.

Among the pollinators of great importance are bees. The more than 25,000 species are involved in the pollination of around 50% to 80% of species in different biomes, as well as more than 70% of agricultural crops. Also these bee populations are declining or even disappearing.

The disappearance of bee populations, called since 2006 "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) or "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CDC), has caused the disappearance of native bee hives and populations in several countries. Possible causes include deforestation, diseases, pesticides, transgenic varieties, climate change (mainly temperature).

Many scientists, in addition to most beekeepers, admit that bees are an essential organism for the survival of the human species on the planet. To cite just one episode, during the 2008 Earthwatch Annual Debate, bees were considered irreplaceable compared to other animals. The award was the result of a public debate among scientists. Among the arguments put forward by Dr. George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the following is of great merit: the loss of bees will be catastrophic for humanity.

Hundreds of studies have already been published on the effects of pesticides on bees, usually with adverse results for bees. In general, studies have found acute and / or chronic effects, depending on the dose used in the study. More recently, studies on adverse effects in bees with sublethal doses of pesticides have increased.

It is in this context that Eduardo Martín Rossi. Fernando Cabaleiro, Leonardo Melgarejo, Murilo Mendoca, Gabriela Ferrer, Renato Barcelos and Dagmar Talga decided to organize this book that brings together citations, summaries and links to little considered articles on this extremely relevant topic for humanity, but of little importance for the rulers in general. . It focuses on bees and their relationships with agrochemicals and GMOs. The book will accompany the international petition, the OAS, on the disturbance of the collapse of hives, its relationship with agrochemicals, with mention of documented cases in Latin America, as well as similar cases that led to legal decisions that prohibited or restricted the use of various pesticides in the European Union.

As the reader will see in the articles cited in this book, studies on the effect of insecticides are very frequent and point to dramatic effects on bees. However, there are fewer studies on the effect of herbicides. One of the main reasons is that part of the scientific community has tacitly adopted the premise that a commercial product designed to kill plants would not cause adverse effects on insects. But this premise is not only false, it also limits the development of new studies. The results of the studies mentioned in this book unequivocally demonstrate that the profound effects of herbicides on bees are caused.

In particular glyphosate herbicides (HBG) like Roundup. In Brazil, as in other countries, herbicides are the most widely used pesticides compared to insecticides, fungicides and others. Scientific evidence from the articles mentioned in this book suggests that in bees, HBG alters behavior, reduces olfactory learning and elemental learning and short-term memory retention, decreases population size, alters the microbiota intestinal dominant, alters the cellular ultrastructure of the hypopharyngeal glands and increases the susceptibility to diseases, among others.

There are issues that have been the subject of increasing research related to the sublethal effects of pesticides on bees. Here I will mention two of them. The first is the possible synergy between environmental stressors in bees. When registering a pesticide, regulatory bodies in most if not all countries do not require that multiple pesticide exposure studies be conducted or that pesticide treatments be combined with other stressors, such as temperature and disease . These multiple exposure studies are very relevant because they simulate what happens to bees due to the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the increasing use of different pesticides in agroecosystems.

The other issue refers to the concept of a superorganism that gains strength. Apis melifera, as an eusocial species, has been considered a superorganism because a hive is made up of a group of genetically related individuals, which function as a collective unit. In this context, the studies that may be most relevant are those that treat the hive as a superorganism. Although there are already studies with this strategy, its accumulation will allow regulatory bodies to modify the requirements in terms of risk assessment of pesticides, because the study in a small number of bees in a short period of time does not reflect what can happen with the entire hive three to four months later.

The greater number of studies of the two mentioned above, of multiple exposure and of considering the hive as a superorganism, can help society to counteract the perversity of the current standards of approval of pesticides by regulatory bodies. Currently no studies of this nature are required.

Finally, we must praise the initiative of Eduardo Martín Rossi and the people we have in other Brazilians in Argentina around the utopia of sustainability, decent science and concern about the adverse effects of poisons, because this first edition of the book he organized includes 201 articles, with information that facilitates the search of the title, author (s), pesticide involved, abstract in English, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as the year, the journal and the link where it was published.

By Rubens Onofre Nodari

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➡️ Organizations that articulate the book: Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia (ABA), Navdanya Internacional, Movimento Ciência Cidadã, GWATÁ - Núcleo de Agroecologia e Educação do Campo, Nature of Rights.

Video: Prof Dave Goulson investigates pesticides And Bees (August 2022).