By Jeremy Hance
Following research linking neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline in bee populations, France has announced it plans to ban Cruiser OSR, an insecticide produced by Sygenta. Recent studies, including one in France, have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides likely hurt bees' ability to navigate, potentially devastating hives. France has said it will give Sygenta two weeks to prove the pesticide is not linked to the bee decline, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
France's decision comes after its National Agency for Food, Safety, and the Environment (ANSES) confirmed the findings of two recent studies published in Science. The two studies found that neonicotinoid pesticides, although not immediately lethal, likely hurt bee colonies over a period of time.
In the French study, researchers glued tiny microchips to free-ranging honeybees and then administered small doses of thiamethoxam, a primary ingredient in Sygenta's Cruiser OSR to some of the bees. Bees exposed to the pesticide were two to three times more likely not to return from foraging trips, allowing researchers to hypothesize that the pesticide impairs the bee's ability to navigate its surroundings successfully.
Because neonicotinoid pesticides work by impacting insects' central nervous systems, they have long been a target for researchers trying to understand Colony Collapse Disorder, but the difficulty has been proving that pesticides harm hives even though they don't kill bees outright.
However, Sygenta denies that their pesticides have played any role whatsoever in the bee collapse.
"All Syngenta’s crop protection products are thoroughly tested to ensure that there are no unwanted effects on beneficial insects such as bees or excessive residues in food or risks to human health," the company says on its website.
The French government disagrees and has stated it would also raise the question of a ban on the pesticide for the entire European Union (UN).