A study just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), identifies a dramatic reduction in sperm count in bees exposed to two of Bayer AG’s most widely used pesticides—thiamethoxam and clothianidin. They found that those two neonicotinoids, “significantly reduce the reproductive capacity of male honeybees (drones), Apis mellifera. Drones were obtained from colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticides or controls, and subsequently maintained in laboratory cages until they reached sexual maturity…the data clearly showed reduced drone lifespan, as well as reduced sperm viability (percentage living versus dead) and living sperm quantity by 39%.”
The study continues: “Our results demonstrate for the first time that neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect male insect reproductive capacity, and provide a possible mechanistic explanation for managed honeybee queen failure and wild insect pollinator decline… As the primary egg layer and an important source of colony cohesion, the queen is intimately connected to colony performance. Increased reports of queen failure have recently been reported in North America and Europe; however, no studies have so far investigated the role of neonicotinoids and male health to explain this phenomenon.”
They conclude, “For the first time, we have demonstrated that frequently employed neonicotinoid insecticides in agro-ecosystems can elicit important lethal (reduced longevity) and sublethal (reduced sperm viability and living sperm quantity) effects on non-target, beneficial male insects; this may have broad population-level implications… Although recent improvements to regulatory requirements for evaluating the environmental impacts of insecticides have been adopted, none so far directly address the reproduction of beneficial insects.”
EU Reviewing its Ban
In 2012 amid an alarming wave of sudden bee colony collapses across the European Union and growing indications that the new class of chemical pesticide—neonicotinoids—promoted primarily by Bayer AG, was responsible for what the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the advisory board to the EU, called an unacceptable risk, the EU Commissioned banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids for three years. The ban affected thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid. The first two, thiamethoxam and clothianidin were the neonicotinoids tested by the new study.
Now the EU Commission, a new commission, has initiated a review of their ban. The scientists today at EFSA have initiated a review of their 2012 assessment on the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticide use to bee colonies. The review is expected to be completed by January 2017. Bayer and the pesticide industry, including Syngenta, are strongly lobbying for a rollback.
Bayer’s neonicotinoids are widely used across the agriculture regions of North America. Despite the growing evidence that the widely-used pesticides cause bee colony death, the US Government has yet to follow the EU ban. In January the US Environmental Protection Agency published first field trials, some ten years after widespread introduction of neonicotinoids in the US agriculture. Their results showed that imidacloprid, one of the three banned in the EU, can cause beehive populations to fall. Despite this, the US Government has yet to take any cautionary action.
The entire food chain
Most of us city slickers, who think food magically grows on the shelves of our local supermarket, have little appreciation of what’s at stake here.
In 2012 in another article after investigation into the alarming wave of bee colony collapse worldwide, I wrote, “In 2003, over the clear warnings of its own scientists, the EPA licensed a neonicotinoid called Clothianidin, patented by the German Bayer AG together with a Japanese company, Takeda. It is sold under the brand name Poncho. It was immediately used on over 88 million acres of US corn in the 2004 crop and since that time, the shocking death of more than one million beehives across the corn prairies of the Midwest has been reported.”
As I noted back then, bees and birds contribute to the essence of life on our planet. A study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that “…perhaps one-third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants.” The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most important pollinator of agricultural crops. Honey bees pollinate over 70 out of 100 crops that in turn provide 90% of the world’s food. They pollinate most fruits and vegetables–including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots.
Bayer AG is the world’s largest maker of neonicotinoids, making the company an understandable match to takeover Monsanto with its own range of highly toxic glyphosate-based weed-killers such as Roundup. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. They act on the central nervous system of insects. But also on bees and small song birds. Recent evidence suggests they could also affect human brain development in newborn.
The political appointees at EPA in 2003 allowed Bayer to receive a license for Poncho despite the official judgment of EPA scientists that its substance, clothianidin, was “highly toxic to bees by contact and oral exposure” and that is was “highly mobile in soil and groundwater – very likely to migrate into streams, ponds and other fields, where it would be absorbed by wildflowers” – and go on to kill more bees and non-target insects like butterflies and bumblebees. The warning, from a leaked EPA memo dated September 28, 2005, summarizes the Environmental Fate and Effects Division’s Environmental Risk Assessment for Clothianidin, which it said “will remain toxic to bees for days after a spray application. In honey bees, the effects of this toxic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects to the queen.”
Despite all evidence, to date the US Department of Agriculture refuses to ban neonicotinoids. In the USA 94% of US corn is treated with either imidacloprid or clothianidin pesticides. The US is the world’s biggest corn exporter. In the USA today, according to latest USDA data, as well 94% of all corn planted is GMO corn. Mostof it is Monsanto GMO corn paired with Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate-based weed killer, Roundup. Most of the US neonicotinoids come from either Bayer AG or the Swiss agrochemical giant, Syngenta, now being taken over by ChinaChem.
Bayer AG spreading bee death via its neonicotinoids, and now in a marriage with Monsanto who is spreading toxic effects harming to human embryo cells and much else? It’s beginning to look like someone is out to dramatically reduce life on our beautiful planet. Oh, but would not that be the most radical form of eugenics, of Nazi “race purification” imaginable?
Have we not been told that Bayer AG today are the good guys, making those harmless little aspirin pills? What was Bayer AG involved in during the Third Reich when it was a key part of the IG Farben complex? What were the Rockefeller companies doing to support IG Farben during the Third Reich and World War II? Some curious souls would do well to dig into those questions in light of the present developments around Bayer AG’s neonicotinoids. As the old sage once wisely said, “Just ‘cuz youse paranoid don’t mean they ain’t out to kill ya…”
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”