In the global debate over neonicotinoid pesticides, the company that makes most of them has relied on one primary argument to defend its product: The evidence that these chemicals, commonly called "neonics," are harmful to bees has been gathered in artificial conditions, force-feeding bees in the laboratory, rather than in the real world of farm fields. That company, Bayer, states on its website that "no adverse effects to bee colonies were ever observed in field studies at field-realistic exposure conditions." Bayer will have a harder time making that argument after today. This week, the prestigious journal Science reveals results from the biggest field study ever conducted of bees and neonics.
Boulder County, Colorado will completely phase out genetically modified (GMO) corn and sugar beets, and neonicotinoid insecticides on county-owned land. According to the Daily Camera, commissioners voted 2-1 last week to approve the latest version of a transition plan that bans the cultivation of GMO corn by the end of 2019 and GMO sugar beets by the end of 2021. Neonicotinoids, which have been widely blamed for the declines of bees and other pollinators, will also be phased out within five years on county properties.
The same Spokane City Council that legalized the raising of small farm animals in March is now taking aim at protecting honeybees. Council President Ben Stuckart has introduced an ordinance that would ban city purchase and use of a relatively new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. Research is showing that those chemicals, sold as a series of products, may be harmful to honeybees.
Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.