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ENVIRONMENT – Climate change is helping pests and diseases that attack crops to spread around the world, a study suggests. Researchers from the universities of Exeter and Oxford have found crop pests are moving at an average of 3km (two miles) a year. The team said they were heading towards the north and south poles, and were establishing in areas that were once to cold for them to live in. The research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Currently, it is estimated that between 10% and 16% of the world’s crops are lost to disease outbreaks. The researchers warn that rising global temperatures could make the problem worse. Dr. Dan Bebber, the lead author of the study from the University of Exeter, said: “Global food security is one of the major challenges we are going to face over the next few decades. We really don’t want to be losing any more of our crops than is absolutely necessary to pests and pathogens.” To investigate the problem, the researchers looked at the records of 612 crop pests and pathogens from around the world that had been collected over the past 50 years. “The most convincing hypothesis is that global warming has caused this shift.”These included fungi, such as wheat rust, which is devastating harvests in Africa, the Middle East and Asia; insects like the mountain pine beetle that is destroying trees in the US; as well as bacteria, viruses and microscopic nematode worms. Each organism’s distribution was different – some butterflies and insects were shifting quickly, at about 20km (12 miles) a year; other bacterium species had hardly moved. On average, however, the pests had been spreading by 3km each year since 1960. “We detect a shift in their distribution away from the equator and towards the poles,” explained Dr. Bebber. The researchers believe that the global trade in crops is mainly responsible for the movement of pests and pathogens from country to country. However, the organisms can only take hold in new areas if the conditions are suitable, and the researchers believe that warming temperatures have enabled the creature to survive at higher latitudes. Dr. Bebber said: “The most convincing hypothesis is that global warming has caused this shift. “One example is the Colorado potato beetle. Warming appears to have allowed it to move northwards through Europe to into Finland and Norway where the cold winters would normally knock the beetle back.” The researchers said that better information about where the pests and pathogens were and where they were moving was needed to fully assess the scale of the problem. –BBC
July 24, 2013 - As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis melliferapopulation that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite calledNosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.
“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.
Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.
Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.
In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.
“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”
The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.
“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says vanEngelsdorp. - Quartz
What’s Going on in Honey Bee Colonies Worldwide?
Honey bees are continently exposed to numerous threats: pests and parasites (such as the Varroa mite or Nosema), bacterial diseases (foulbrood), fungal diseases (chalkbrood), viral diseases (invertebrate iridescent virus – IIV), and pesticides. Now honey bees are facing an even greater risk: Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD), a little understood phenomenon in which worker bees from a colony abruptly disappear. Today, the disappearance of honey bees has transformed into a global epidemic, negatively affecting ecosystems in a multitude of environments. Since 2006, North American migratory beekeepers have seen an annual 30 percent to 90 percent loss in their colonies; non-migratory beekeepers noted an annual loss of over 50 percent. Similar losses were reported in Canada, as well as several countries in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America.
Why Are Bees Dying & What is Causing this Epidemic?
Because there are no bee bodies to examine, scientists are unable to determine the exact cause of death. Initial hypotheses were wildly different including environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, pathogens (i.e., disease including Israel acute paralysis virus), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids or imidacloprid, radiation from cellular phones or other man-made devices, and genetically modified crops with pest control characteristics such as transgenic maize. Now mostscientists believe that CCD is the result of an unfortunate combination of many factors all of which work to increase the honey bee’s stress and reduce its immune system.
Why Should We Care?
The impact honeybees have on the human population and the environment is far more crucial than we may think. Agricultural crops rely on honeybees worldwide to provide them with life and guarantee their reproduction. Bees facilitate pollination for most plant life, including well over 100 different vegetable and fruit crops. Without bees, there would be significantly less pollination, which would result in limited plant growth and lower food supplies. According to Dr. Albert Einstein, “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination…no more men”. Bees’ eradication affects us more than we may think.
What Are Scientists Doing to Help?
Because a honey bee population collapse would mean an agricultural catastrophe, scientists have been working overtime in an attempt to determine the cause of CCD. Sceintists have linked CCD to many factors including the Varroa mite and Nosema. Recently, a Harvard biologist published a study directly linking the pesticide imidacloprid. Still the consensus is that multiple factors are to blame which is why many scientists are looking at ways to improve a honey bees health as the potential solution.
How Can We Help?
One of the easiest ways to help rejuvenate the honeybee population is to respect honeybees. Learning to preserve beehives and embrace bees’ roles in our ecosystem can be challenging, but the bees have a job to do and threatening their quality of life will consequentially threaten everyone’s. There are also proactive ways to encourage the regrowth of honeybee colonies. Plant bee-attracting flowers, sponsor honeybee research, or even become a beekeeper. Join a local beekeepers' association to become better informed about the care and keeping of honeybees and other steps you can take to stimulate colony growth and combat CCD. - Read More
What is striking, however, is that the contributions are spread out and include a large number of both Republicans and Democrats. Whoever wins, Monsanto has the support of the White House, the Senate and the House, not to mention key appoints in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “While there are numerous points of overlap between Monsanto and the United States Government under the Obama administration, the three most important connections are that of Michael Taylor, Roger, Beachy, and Islam Siddiqui—all three of these Monsanto affiliates were appointed to high level positions within the government by the Obama administration.”
The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war. According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations. - DiscloseTV
After over a decade of work, the so-called "RoboBee" has taken flight. Harvard University Researchers have been dedicated to creating an insect-sized robot for years and the work has finally paid off. According to the researchers, the robot half the size of a paperclip and weighing less than a tenth of gram, was able to hover for a few moments and then flew on a "preset route through the air." "This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years," Robert J. Wood, principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-supported RoboBee project, said in a statement. "It's really only because of this lab's recent breakthroughs in manufacturing, materials, and design that we have even been able to try this. And it just worked, spectacularly well." - CBSNews
The Illinois Ag Dept. illegally seized privately owned bees from renowned naturalist, Terrence Ingram, without providing him with a search warrant and before the court hearing on the matter, reports Prairie Advocate News. Behind the obvious violations of his Constitutional rights is Monsanto. Ingram was researching Roundups effects on bees, which hes raised for 58 years. They ruined 15 years of my research, he told Prairie Advocate, by stealing most of his stock. A certified letter from the Ag Dept.s Apiary Inspection Supervisor, Steven D. Chard, stated: During a routine inspection of your honeybee colonies by Inspectors Susan Kivikko and Eleanor Balson on October 23, 2011, the bacterial disease American Foulbrood was detected in a number of colonies located behind your house. Presence of the disease in some of your colonies was confirmed via test results from the USDA Bee Research Laboratory inBeltsville, Maryland that analyzed samples collected from your apiary. Ingram can prove his bees did not have foulbrood, and planned to do so at a hearing set in April, but the state seized his bees at the end of March. They have not returned them and no one at the Ag Dept. seems to know where his bees are. The bees could have been destroyed, or they could have been turned over to Monsanto to ascertain why some of his bees are resistant to Roundup. Without the bees as evidence, Ingram simply cannot defend against the phony charges of foulbrood. Worse, all his queens died after Kivikko and Balson inspected his property, outside of his presence and without a warrant. Of note, Illinois beekeepers are going underground after Ingrams experience and refuse to register their hives, in case the state tries to steal their private property on phony claims. - Disclose.TV