By Michael McCarthy
The Independent, April 6, 2012
 
A commonly used nerve-agent pesticide is the likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honey bee colonies in the last five years, a scientific study claimed yesterday.

Imidacloprid, one of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides introduced over the past 15 years, is likely to be responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the recently observed phenomenon in which bees abandon their hives en masse, according to the study by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States.

The study, to appear in the June issue of The Bulletin of Insectology, provides “convincing evidence” of the link between imidacloprid and CCD, claim the authors, led by Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the school’s Department of Environmental Health. It follows two other widely publicised studies, from Britain and France, published last week in the journal Science, which strongly suggested that neonicotinoids were linked to the declines in bees and other pollinating insects seen in Europe and the US.

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