Pesticides in 75% of Honey Samples Taken from all Over the World

Pesticides in 75% of Honey Samples Taken from all Over the World

Pesticides in 75% of Honey Samples Taken from all Over the World

When researchers collected honey samples from around the world, they found that three-quarters of them had a common type of pesticide suspected of playing a role in the decline of bees.

Honey Bee on Willow Catkin.

Alexandre Aebi and his team at the University of Neuchâtel were offered a unique opportunity to explore widespread neonicotinoid use when a curator at the university's botanical garden approached them with a collection of honey samples from around the world. Samples were taken across all continents (except Antarctica), as well as numerous isolated islands.

Researchers meant to analyze the samples for five commonly used neonicotinoids - acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam.

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"The increasingly documented sublethal effects of neonicotinoid pesticides at environmentally relevant concentrations on bees", the researchers note, "include growth disorders, reduced efficiency of the immune system, neurological and cognitive disorders, respiratory and reproductive function, queen survival, foraging efficiency", and decreased homing capacity. Almost half of all the honey samples showed more than two types of neonics, and 10 percent had four or more.

"[The] average concentration [found in the honey] lies within the bioactive range, causing deficits in learning, behaviour, and colony performance". In North America, 86 percent of samples had the pesticide; Asia, 80 percent; Europe, where there's a partial ban, 79 percent; Africa 73 percent; the Australian region, 71 percent and South America, 57 percent. But the pesticides have been controversial, because a number of studies have found that they can hurt pollinators as well as pests. He said there were "relatively few places where we did not find any" contaminated samples.

The EU allows a maximum residue limit of 50 nanograms per gram for acetamiprid, imidacloprid and thiacloprid, and 10 nanograms per gram for clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

"These findings are alarming", said Chris Connolly, an expert in neurobiology from the university of Dundee, author of an article accompanying the publication of the study. "Or does its continued use on other crops reach bee-visited plants and still accumulate in their honey?".

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