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Low Doses of Pesticides Make It Harder for Bees to Find Flowers
A review of a decade of research of the impact of pesticides on bees found that even low doses commonly used in agriculture hurt the bees' learning and memory, a Royal Holloway, University of London press release reported.
"Importantly, as the near-total European ban on neonicotinoid insecticides is set to be implemented in December this year, our results showed that non-neonicotinoid insecticides also have a robust significant negative impact on bee learning and memory," study author and Royal Holloway Ph.D. student Harry Siviter said in the press release.
This has major implications for those hoping to craft bee-friendly agricultural policy.
Ohio State University entomologist Reed Johnson, who was not involved in the study, told Popular Science that the question for bee advocates is, "Can pesticides ever be used safely around bees?"
This study "suggests that the answer is 'no,'" he wrote in an email.
To reach this conclusion, Siviter and three other researchers from Royal Holloway looked at data from more than 100 experiments conducted as part of 23 studies, according to Popular Science.
The studies used a strategy called the "proboscis extension assay" to test bee learning. When a bee approaches nectar, it starts to stick out its tongue. The studies exposed bees to pesticides and then looked to see how long it took bees to stick out their tongues when prompted to forage, if they stuck them out at all.
The conclusion that pesticides impact bee learning and memory has important consequences for bee survival, because worker bees need to remember foraging routes, which types of flowers to visit and which individual flowers they have already drained.
"Bees have a very difficult job," Siviter told Popular Science.
The findings also have important implications for less-studied wild bees who do not live in colonies.
"[I]f their learning or memory are affected, there are no other bees to help out or pick up the slack," University of Guelph scientist Elizabeth Bates, who was not involved with the research, told Popular Science.
Siviter hoped the paper would help politicians craft even more robust plans to protect bees as they build on the neonicotinoid ban.
"Our findings therefore highlight the need for policy makers and regulators to increasingly consider the sub-lethal impacts of insecticides on important pollinators such as bees," he said in the press release.
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The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.
Formosa Plant May Still Be Releasing Plastic Pollution in Texas After $50M Settlement, Activists Find
On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa in 2017, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It Won’t Be 'the Rubbish Dump of the World'
The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.