This is Why an SAP Is Needed: Separating Fact From Fiction

September 11, 2012

 Editor’s  Note: The following article is a  blind acceptance of the Lu Study. The SAP, with its recognized expertise in bee health decline, is in a position to educate the public of studies with little or no scientific foundation. 

 In particular the Lu study purported to determine whether feeding colonies of bees with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—often done by beekeepers in order to supplement the bees’ diet in cold temperatures—that was assumed to have imidacloprid residues would lead to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in the colonies. 

The control hives of the study were fed HFCS that did not have traces of imidacloprid and the experimental groups HFCS had various levels of imidacloprid. The Lu study came to the conclusion that the control hives did not suffer CCD, whereas the hives provided with the spiked imidacloprid HFCS did have CCD type symptoms. 

Essentially, the authors of the study disproved their own hypothesis: because the control groups that were fed HFCS with no imidacloprid spike survived, the ordinary HFCS used by beekeepers to feed their hives has no effect on the mortality of the bees. They went on to further prove that imidacloprid was not present in HFCS when they provided the readers with Table 2, which shows that Blank HFCS contained an ‘n.a.’ amount of imidacloprid. 

 In addition to the above errors, the authors never once identified the HFCS that was used in the experiment. The reader is provided with no information in regards to the source, thus limiting the possibility of reproducing the study. Had the authors provided the audience of its study with the source, brand and lot number of HCFS used, one could ensure that said HFCS is at least similar to the type used by beekeepers in the region

By Molly Redfield

Nourishing the Planet 

Pesticides prayed across vast expanses of farm land, they have become a ubiquitous part of industrial agriculture. But there may actually be more consequences to their use than we had previously predicted. A recent study headed by Chensheng Lu at Harvard University connects the rising phenomena of bee hive abandonment, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), to the use of a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids. 

Scientists believe that pesticide use is a major factor in the recent worldwide decline in bee populations (Photo credit: Robert Gutowski) 

Introduced in the early 1990s, neonicotinoids are today incorporated widely in industrial agricultural operations because they are readily taken up by plants, acting quickly and effectively on crop pests. But these pesticides also affect non-target pest species. When bees forage, they are exposed to neonicotinoids that are present in both the plants vegetative tissue and the nectar they feed on. 

In Lu’s study, exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid is shown to impact the homing ability of honeybees. Lu and his colleagues further suggest that neonicotinoids may be one of the central causes of CCD and the subsequent massive decline in bee populations since 2006. They link this decline in theU.S. and worldwide to the emergence of genetically engineered corn seed treated with neonicotinoids. Other factors such as pathogens and declining habitats further aggravate the loss of bee populations. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes the importance of bees and restoring their populations. According to the USDA, bees contribute approximately US$15 billion in added crop values in the United States and are responsible for pollinating about 75 percent of US grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Additionally, their continued decline could cost theU.S. billions of dollars. Truly, short-term gains in crop yields with neonicotinoid use must be reconsidered in light of the repercussions pesticides have on the populations of these incredibly important pollinators.

Molly Redfield is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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