Rest easy knowing that the fate of the future, and our ability to produce food just got a helping hand. Now all we need to worry about is famine, drought, war, corruption, blight, mass extinctions and comets.
Megastar pest-control company Ortho, a division of Scotts Miracle-Gro, said in an announcement Tuesday [4/12/16] that it would “immediately begin to transition away from the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides for outdoor use.”
Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand, said the decision came after carefully considering the potential threats of the chemicals, called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, to honey bees.
“While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on,” Martin said in a statement. “We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead.”
The announcement came on the heels of a test by the EU that determined the effects of neonics on both honeybees and bumblebees.
Scientists from the University of Sussex exposed honeybee and bumblebee workers to the neonic pesticide clothianidin for 11-12 days and then assessed the effect of the pesticide using a proboscis extension reflex conditioning assay, which tests how bees learn to associate an odor with a sugar reward.
The scientists found that clothianidin impaired the honeybees’ ability to learn the association, but surprisingly had no adverse effects on the bumblebees.
Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex said:
“Our research has important implications for global regulatory assessments which generally use honeybees as a model for all bees. We show for the first time how this banned pesticide, while having a significant negative effect on learning in honeybees, had no adverse effects on learning in bumblebees. This is unexpected, since previous work suggested that this pesticide has a more pronounced impact on colonies of bumblebees than on those of honeybees. During a time when the EU regulation of certain pesticides is being reviewed, we must ensure regulators learn from this research and do not readily extrapolate findings from one bee species to others.”
The pesticide has been banned for use on flowering crops by the European Union since 2013.
Although the bans and the independent removal of the chemical by pesticide giants is a step in the right direction May Berenbaum, a bee expert and professor of entomology at the University of Illinois, said homeowners use a significant amount of pesticides, and introducing alternatives to neonics is important.
“There are still profound problems (for bees), but this is a step toward removing one contributor to some of the problems,” she said, further cautioning that the replacement pesticides could have problems of their own, “This is not the end. This is no time for complacency.”