New Study Indicates GMO Herbicide Use Harms Honeybee Population

shutterstock_140126488When it comes to GMO, there seems to be an air of mystery surrounding how it really affects the environment at large. It does not help that many biotech companies are just interested in raking in the profits with utter disregard to consequences of putting out GM plants. One of the more controversial ones involves GM crops that use the herbicide glyphosate.

In order to combat more and more weeds increasingly becoming resistant to the best herbicides out there, biotech giant Monsanto introduced the Roundup Ready line of GM crops that were genetically engineered to withstand the effects of the powerful herbicide glyphosate. While it did effectively get rid of the weeds that do damage to Roundup Ready crops, the heavy use of glyphosate led to many unwanted consequences. One of them is the development of weeds becoming more and more resistant to the effects of glyphosate. Now, there is an even more increasing concern about the effects of glyphosate use. It seems to have a drastic effect on the honeybee population in areas where the powerful herbicide is being used.

According to research conducted by scientists recently, glyphosate may be a potential cause to the alarming decrease in honeybee population through a phenomenon scientists now call as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, there is a reported drop in the honeybee population, from 5 million to less than 2.5 million.

In trying to search for a cause to CCD, scientists have discovered that glyphosate has the ability to disrupt the learning behaviors of honeybees and severely affect the performance of the colony. And with glyphosate use increasing among farms that use it in conjunction with GM crops, the problem will only be getting worse.

While the makers of glyphosate has reiterated its safety as it easily binds to soil particles, scientists have recently discovered that the powerful herbicide also has that ability to lose its binding to soil and become active again. The herbicide is also found to have a persistent presence in the surrounding area where it is used. Glyphosate may remain chemically unchanged in the environment for as long as a year. A study by the US Geological Survey also found the presence of glyphosate in 70 percent of rivers and streams tested in the Midwest, where the powerful herbicide has been in constant use for many years.

The study involving the effects of glyphosate in the honeybee population indicated that the learning behavior and short-term memory retention of the honeybees decreased substantially compared to the control groups. The researchers used field-realistic levels of the powerful herbicide that are similar to what honeybees may encounter in a farm cultivating GM crops.

Another important thing that scientists noted is that honeybees do not die immediately upon exposure to glyphosate. This allows the exposed bees to bring the chemical compound into the bee hive, thereby exposing it to the bee larvae in the colony.

The decrease in honeybee population is sounding a serious alarm among scientists in the field of agriculture. Honeybees are known as the primary pollinators of many important crops that provide the world with its food supply. A decrease in honeybee population will lead to a large gap of crop pollinators that can seriously affect food supply production.

Source: GM Watch


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