A NEW report has warned of a 'widespread crash' in pollinating insect numbers, with an average decline of 25% across all bees and hoverflies since 1980. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology used data collected by volunteers across a 33-year period to monitor the populations of over 350 species of pollinators – and concluded that the 'intensification' of farming and pesticides was a major driver behind the declines it found. In particular, it highlighted several species declines coinciding with the introduction of neonicotinoids in 2007.
Usage of neonicotinoids is common in all agricultural regions of the world but data on environmental contamination in tropical regions is scarce. We conducted a survey of five neonicotinoids in soil, water and sediment samples along gradients from crops fields to protected lowland tropical forest, mangroves and wetlands in northern Belize, a region of high biodiversity value. Neonicotinoid frequency of detection and concentrations were highest in soil (68%) and lowest in water (12%). Imidacloprid was the most common residue reaching a maximum of 17.1 ng/g in soil samples.
A widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades has been revealed by the first national survey in Britain, which scientists say “highlights a fundamental deterioration” in nature. The analysis of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species found the insects have been lost from a quarter of the places they were found in 1980. A third of the species now occupy smaller ranges, with just one in 10 expanding their extent, and the average number of species found in a square kilometre fell by 11.
On March 22, representatives of European Agriculture Ministers will meet at the European Commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (ScoPAFF) to deliberate Thiacloprid's relicensing. Three other neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) were recently banned for outdoor use in all EU member states. They were banned from sale from 19 September 2018 and from use by 19 December 2018.
Evidence that neonicotinoids are a strong contributor to insect declines should not come as a surprise. Their use has exploded in the last two decades. As early as 2008, the USEPA in one of its reviews of thiamethoxam went as far as to predict “structural and functional changes of both the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems” following registration of the insecticide. Such a broad statement of concern is rarely encountered in a formal regulatory assessment. It is unfortunate indeed that this EPA scientist’s views fell on deaf ears.
A new pesticide by the name of “Sivanto” was recently released by Bayer AG. Its active ingredient flupyradifurone binds to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AchR) in the honeybee brain, similar to neonicotinoids. Nevertheless, flupyradifurone is assumed to be harmless for honeybees and can even be applied on flowering crops. So far, only little has been known about sublethal effects of flupyradifurone on honeybees. Intact motor functions are decisive for numerous behaviors including foraging and dancing.
Millions of bogong moths normally line the walls of caves in the Australian Alps over summer, but for the past two years there have been zero moths in some caves. Every year Professor Warrant returns from Lund University in Sweden to his house — and field laboratory — in Adaminaby in New South Wales to study the moths and their incredible migratory skills. Last year he was shocked to find two caves he regularly visited had no moths at all. A third, larger cave in the Snowy Mountains had fewer than previous years, but still millions of moths, he said.
In a corner of Hertfordshire, in one of the oldest agricultural research institutes in the world – the Rothamsted Research Institute, founded in 1843 – entomologist Chris Shortall spends his days counting and categorising mounds of moths, aphids and beetles. In fact, that is exactly what he has been doing ever since he joined the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) in 2003 – a branch of the Rothamsted Institute that has been dedicated to the tracking and study of all types of bugs in the UK since 1964.
Researchers in California just demonstrated that a mere six days of eating all organic is enough to significantly reduce levels of harmful pesticides in your body. In the study, four families (with completely different backgrounds) consumed conventional products for six days and had their urine tested. Then, they ate a 100 percent organic diet for six days and had their urine tested again. The drop in pesticide levels present in their urine between tests was massive.
There has been a recent investigation here on Bellingcat, of a poisoning incident in Bulgaria in April 2015, where an individual named Emilian Gebrev was posioned. An angle of this investigation has been to see if it is at all connected to the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal. One particular aspect of recent publicity has been to examine whether or not a “Novichok” series nerve agent was responsible for the 2015 poisoning incident.