The study, which was published in the online journal PLoS ONE, investigated the various methods and routes by which a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which includes clothianidin, are harming honey bees. They discovered that both clothianidin and thiamethoxam, another component of neonicotinoid insecticides, persist in "extremely high levels" in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of crops treated with these insecticides, which runs contrary to industry claims that the chemicals biodegrade and are not a threat.
The research team also found neonicotinoid compounds in soil, including in fields where the chemicals were not even sprayed, as well as on various plants and flowers visited by bees. Based on their analysis, the researchers involved with the study determined that bees actively transfer contaminated pollen from primarily neonicotinoid-treated corn crops, and bring it back to their hives. The bees also transfer neonicotinoid compounds to other plants and crops not treated with the chemicals, which shows just how persistent these chemicals truly are in the environment.
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"This research should nail the coffin lid shut on clothianidin," said Laurel Hopwood, chairwoman of the Sierra Club's Genetic Engineering Action Team, who is petitioning the EPA to finally ban these chemicals after years of needless delay. "Despite numerous attempts by the beekeeping industry and conservation organizations to persuade the EPA to ban clothianidin, the EPA has failed to protect the food supply for the American people."
Without bees, which are now dying off at an alarming rate due to exposure to clothianidin and various other insecticides and fungicides, one third or more of the food supply will be destroyed, including at least 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables that rely on bees for pollination. This is why Dr. Neil Carman, Ph.D., scientific advisor to Sierra Club, has put out a call for the EPA to immediately ban the use of clothianidin and the other neonicotinoid insecticides for the sake of protecting the food supply from irreversible destruction.
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