If you’re reading this page, you likely already feel pretty strongly about Monsanto and Roundup.
This study isn’t going to change that, either, as researchers have found evidence that Roundup (and other glyphosate-based herbicides) may be contributing to colony collapse disorder.
More specifically, field-relative doses of glyphosate (meaning at the concentration normally found in agricultural fields) can still cause significant damage to honeybees ability to navigate, meaning that glyphosate significantly impairs their ability to find their way back to their hive. Worse, glyphosate can be transmitted via tainted nectar, so even if a bee does find their way home after their navigation systems have been hindered, doing so may put the rest of their hive at risk.
The findings were first reported by an Argentinian research team in The Journal of Experimental Biology in 2015.
At the time it was one of the first studies to analyze short-term and long-term herbicide effects on bees, and specifically tested sub-lethal doses.
What the researchers found is that even sub-lethal doses (including at what they considered field-relative doses) can still result in a decreased sucrose sensitivity, impairing their ability to track and find food. Glyphosate-impaired bees also showed a decreased sense of smell, poorer memory, and poorer learning performance relative to unaffected bees.
That affected honeybees could also damage their home hive through contamination of tainted nectar was one of the more surprising findings of the study, as it meant that even a single glyphosate-impaired bee could negatively affect the entire rest of the hive, thereby potentially contributing further to colony collapse disorder.
Given just how much of our agricultural products depend on honeybees for pollination, this is especially concerning, even as some researchers say bee populations may have dropped by as much as half in the last ten to twenty years.
You can read more about the research here, in the original study.
What do you think? Should farmers who use glyphosate and otherwise may contribute to colony collapse disorder be held responsible?
What will it take to stem the tide of bee losses and stabilize the pollinator populations that make our agricultural system possible?