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Study Finds Honey From Around the World Is Contaminated With Potent Pesticides

Study Finds Honey From Around the World Is Contaminated With Potent Pesticides


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As the population of bees continues to decline, scientists are finding significant traces of chemicals in the honey they produce

Metkalova / istockphoto.com

The honey you spread on your toast in the morning likely contains harmful pesticides that may already be affecting the planet’s bee population. According to The Guardian, new research shows that out of 200 honey samples, 75 percent contained neonicotinoids — an extremely toxic insecticide that affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death.

Three-quarters of the world’s crops owe their vitality to bees, which have been in serious decline over recent decades. This new study, called “Nerve Agents in Honey,” was conducted by researchers at the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It joins multiple other reports in highlighting the unintended effects that the pesticides farmers use on their crops are having on wildlife around the world.

Contamination rates are highest in North America, with 86 percent of samples containing one or more neonicotinoid, followed by Asia at 80 percent and Europe at 79 percent. The lowest was South America at 57 percent. All but two samples showed contamination levels below the “maximum residue level” allowed for human consumption under European Union laws.

“The global neonicotinoid contamination in honey is another reminder that wildlife is threatened by these chemicals around the world,” Buglife UK’s Matt Shardlow told The Guardian. “There is growing momentum in support of a new global solution to ensure that high standards of protection for the environment and people are applied everywhere.”

To learn more about the dangers of insecticides, read these 10 facts that may have you going organic.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.


Summary

The majority of conservation efforts and public attention are focused on large, charismatic mammals and birds such as tigers, pandas and penguins, yet the bulk of animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, consists of invertebrates such as insects. Arguably, these innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than their furry or feathered brethren, but until recently we had few long-term data on their population trends. Recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico suggest that insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse: the German data describe a 76% decline in biomass over 26 years, while the Puerto Rican study estimates a decline of between 75% and 98% over 35 years. Corroborative evidence, for example from butterflies in Europe and California (which both show slightly less dramatic reductions in abundance), suggest that these declines are not isolated. The causes are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear insects are integral to every terrestrial food web, being food for numerous birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and performing vital roles such as pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse without insects. These studies are a warning that we may have failed to appreciate the full scale and pace of environmental degradation caused by human activities in the Anthropocene.