Pesticides : three-fourths of the honey being contaminated

Trace amounts of neonicotinoid pesticides found in 75% of honey samples worldwide—'far below' levels dangerous to

Trace amounts of neonicotinoid pesticides found in 75% of honey samples worldwide—'far below' levels dangerous to

As for the effects on bees, 34 per cent of honey samples were found to have concentrations of neonicotinoids that are known to be detrimental.

Because of the growing concern about the possible negative effects of neonicotinoids on behaviour and health of bees, their use in some countries is controlled: for example, in France the use of neonicotinoids for commercial honey production is prohibited.

Scientists tested 198 honey samples from six continents - and 75% of them contained at least one type of neonicotinoid chemical, which is also harmful to bees. Even at the elevated levels, the honey is still safe for human consumption.

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The pesticides are believed to be a large contributor to honey-bee colony collapse disorder, where the majority of worker bees inexplicably abandon a hive, leaving the queen, a substantial amount of honey and a few nurse bees that care for the queen and immature bees.

While the researchers emphasize that the concentrations of neonicotinoids were below levels that the European Union authorizes in food and feed, they do cite some emerging studies on the effects of neonicotinoids in vertebrate animals, such as impaired immune functioning and reduced growth, which may result in a re-evaluation of these restrictions.

As part of a citizen science project, the Swiss researchers asked other experts, friends and relatives to ship them honey samples. Almost one-third of the power of humanity depend of the plants that they pollinate.

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"I used to think of neonicotinoids as being a [localized] problem next to a small set of crops", says Amro Zayed, who studies bees at York University in Toronto and wasn't involved in the research. They said neonics are risky to all sorts of insects, even ladybugs.

However the impact of neonics on pollinators such as bees has always been a troubling subject for scientists around the world.

"Despite the fact that the majority of our samples were contaminated, as a beekeeper I was stunned by the cocktails [of neonicotinoids] at which honeybees are exposed, especially since cocktail effects are now not tested on non-target organisms", said Aebi.

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The positive honey samples contained one or more varieties of insecticides that can harm bees. "It was just too strong".

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