Fungicides threaten our pollinators!

Fungicides are found to be the strongest factor linked to steep bumblebee declines, surprising scientists and adding to the threats to vital pollinators.

The English newspaper “The Guardian” published an article on the latest scientific discoveries of the destruction of our pollinators which are crucial for our nourishment. Common fungicides are the strongest factor linked to steep declines in bumblebees across the US.

The surprising result has alarmed bee experts because fungicides are targeted at molds and mildews - not insects - but now appear to be a cause of major harm. How fungicides kill bees is now being studied, but is likely to be by making them more susceptible to the deadly nosema parasite or by exacerbating the toxicity of other pesticides.

The widespread decline in bees and other pollinators is worrying because they fertilise about 75% of all food crops, with half of pollination being done by wild species. Pesticides, habitat destruction, disease and climate change have all been implicated in bee declines, but relatively little research has been done on the complex question of which factors cause the most damage.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used machine learning statistical methods to analyse the role of 24 different factors in explaining the decline of four bumblebee species, tracked at 284 sites across 40 US states.

"There needs to be much more work on fungicides and their role in bee declines;” said Scott McArt of the Cornell University in the US who led the new study.

Matt Shardlow, at conservation charity Buglife, said: "The way we humans are managing the landscape is putting bees are under enormous pressure, and just as we seem to be making progress towards a complete ban [in the EU] on a proven factor - neonicotinoid insecticides - it appears a very common fungicide could also be a driver of wild bee declines. Scientists and regulators must respond with urgent new studies.”

"This research suggests the regulatory system for pesticides may have let us down once again, perhaps because regulatory tests don't expose bees to the pesticide and a disease at the same time;' said Prof David Goulson, at the University of Sussex, UK. He said it also supported the argument made recently by a UK government chief scientific adviser that the landscape-scale effects of pesticides cannot be predicted from controlled lab and field studies.


Note: This text was mostly taken directly from the Guardian article (link)