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Decline in honey bees linked to Monsanto

Glyphosate, a weed killer used globally, pose risks to human health, animals, and the environment. Now, a new report from PNAS shows that glyphosate may be indirectly killing honey bees around the world.

Published: September 26, 2018, 2:40 pm

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    Research from The University of Texas at Austin revealed that bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, were more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.

    Titled Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees, the research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) on September 24.

    It provides enough evidence that glyphosate has contributed to the rapid decline of honey bees around the world, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It happens when the majority of worker bees in a colony leave the queen.

    Glyphosate interferes with an important enzyme found in plants and microorganisms. While it has long been assumed to be nontoxic to animals, including humans and bees, this latest research proves otherwise.

    Scientists exposed honeybees to glyphosate at current levels typically found on farms. The researchers painted the bees’ backs with coloured dots in order to track them. Within days, they noticed that the honeybees exposed to glyphosate suffered a significant loss of intestinal bacteria and were more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.

    “Studies in humans, bees and other animals have shown that the gut microbiome is a stable community that resists infection by opportunistic invaders,” one researcher explained. “So if you disrupt the normal, stable community, you are more susceptible to this invasion of pathogens.”

    “It’s not the only thing causing all these bee deaths, but it is definitely something people should worry about because glyphosate is used everywhere,” she said.

    US beekeepers have reported a massive losses of bees or CCD. Explanations for the phenomenon have included exposure to pesticides or antibiotics, habitat loss, bacterial infections now also herbicides.

    The threat to bees could even harm the global economy. Almond growers rely on bee pollination, which is worth $15 billion to the US farming industry. The Western honeybee is the world’s premier pollinator species.

    A decline in bees could adversely affect the beef and dairy industries because if bee population dwindles, it eventually increases the cost of feedstock. That forces inflation into beef and milk prices.

    A groundskeeper has already won a $289 million lawsuit against Bayer AG unit Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, because it gave him terminal cancer.

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