New research reveals widespread existence of pesticide in honey

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Out of all the honey samples collected around the world in a global study, researchers found 75 percent contained neonicotinoid.
  • Neonicotinoid is a common type of pesticide that many scientists say are toxic to bees.
  • According to Science magazine, the decline in bee abundances is particularly alarming given their role in pollination; bee losses are a major threat to human food security and ecosystem stability.

Published in Science, the new study found presence of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoid,  in 75 % of honey samples collected between 2012 and 2016. The levels of pesticide found can be neuroactive in bees. It means the bees’ cognitive function is affected.

The level of contamination was found highest in North America at 86 percent, followed by Asia (80 percent), Europe (79 percent) and lowest in South America (57 percent).

The worldwide decline of honeybees is a widespread concern for food production because the insects are essential to plant and crop pollination.

Simon Fraser University professor and bee researcher Mark Winston says this study proves to be significant in promoting awareness of how extensively the pesticide can spread throughout an ecosystem.

“We used to think that neonicotinoids are only found in areas where they are heavily used on one particular crop, but this study is consistent with others that have found neonicotinoids up to quite a few kilometers away from the place where they are used,” he said.

Neonicotinoids still have harmful effects on bees even at the relatively low levels found in the honey samples. They can still cause disorientation and other cognitive problems that can affect a bee colony survival.

According to the pesticide industry, the reason why this type of pesticides is commonly used is that they are not considered harmful to mammals, including humans.

Consuming honey with the presence of neonicotinoids is unlikely to harm humans, Winston noted.  But he personally advised limiting foods with a lot of pesticides.

Some parts of Canada have already begun discontinuing the use of neonicotinoids, including Ontario. Montreal and Vancouver have prohibited the pesticide within city limits.

Health Canada is studying if it needs to ban a particular type of neonicotinoid pesticide that is posing danger to aquatic insects. A final resolution will be disclosed in December 2018.

Source: CBC News

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