In recent years the honey bee population has shrunk, worrying farmers, beekeepers, and environmentalists. Honey bees play a vital role in the pollination process of plants and in human farming. Theories from climate change to malnutrition swirled around the disappearing swarm as the world tried to understand what was causing the loss of such a critical part of the ecosystem.
Thanks to Wikileaks, an EPA document has come to light revealing that the agency allowed for the use of a bee-toxic pesticide on cotton and mustard. The EPA approved the use of clothianidin--a pesticide produced by Bayer-- that is used to pre-treat corn seeds and banned by Germany, France, Italy, and Slovenia. "The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist."
According to the leaked document, a prior Bayer study reviewed clothianidin as a major risk concern to "nontarget insects," (honey bees). "Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis." The leaked document also reveals that clothianidin was still allowed on the market despite a botched toxicity study by Bayer and numerous warnings from scientists about its obvious dangers.
Image: "Honey Bee" by _Jeremy_ on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.