Pesticides : three-fourths of the honey being contaminated

A collection of jars of honey

Regarding bees, the study shows that 34 percent of the almost 200 samples contained insecticide levels known to be detrimental to bees and other pollinators, demonstrating that a substantial portion of the global population of pollinators are adversely affected by the widespread distribution of neonicotinoids.

The first global honey survey testing for these pesticides shows just how widely honeybees are exposed to the chemicals, which have been shown to affect the health of bees and other insects.

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.

Overall, 75 per cent of all honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid; of these contaminated samples, 30 per cent of contained a single neonicotinoid, 45 per cent contained two or more, and 10 per cent contained four or five. Concentrations were highest in European, North American, and Asian samples. Even at the elevated levels, the honey is still safe for human consumption.


The impact on bees of continuing to use these pesticides is expected to have widespread consequences. But the pesticides have been controversial, because a number of studies have found that they can hurt pollinators as well as pests. Almost one-third of the power of humanity depend of the plants that they pollinate. An outside expert, University of Nebraska's Judy Wu-Smart, said the study used too few honey samples to make the broad conclusions the researchers did.

The scientists say the chemical is not near levels that would come close to harming humans, but it is a big worry for bees. Their widespread application has been identified in numerous scientific studies as the key factor in the steep decline of all pollinators, particularly bees.

"This is an important paper if for no other reason that it will attract a great deal of attention to the mounting problem of worldwide dependence on agrochemicals, the side effects of which we know relatively little", Cameron said in an email. Mitchell's favorite is a dark and bitter honey from Africa.

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