OSU Study: Popular pesticides shorten lives of honeybees

Environment

OSU scientists don't want ban, seek more research

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new study out of Oregon State University revealed two popular commercial pesticides shorten the lives of honeybees and cause psychological distress to the insect.

OSU researchers from the College of Agricultural Sciences found detrimental effects in bees exposed to both Transform and Sivanto. The pesticides have both been registered for use in the United States and were developed to be more compatible with bee health.

The findings were released Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

Data from the study showed that the effects from Transform and Sivanto can keep honeybees from performing their essential tasks smoothly. Researchers looked into the “sub-lethal” effects of sulfoxaflor, the active ingredient in Transform, and flupyradifurone, the active ingredient in Sivanto. “Sub-lethal” effects mean that the bees don’t die immediately, but experience physiological stress resulting in shortened lifespan.

A majority of the honeybees exposed to Transform died within six hours of being exposed, according to researchers. The findings confirmed the severe toxicity of the pesticide to bees when exposed directly to field application rates recommended on the label, according to OSU.

The study also revealed that Sivanto’s effect on the bees was not as harmful as Transform following contact exposure. However, results showed that field-application rates of Sivanto reduced adult survival and caused increased oxidative stress and apoptosis in the honey bee tissues.

Though the pesticides were proven to shorten the lives of honeybees, researchers are not calling for a ban on Transform or Sivanto. Instead, they want more warnings be made available to farmers and agricultural workers.

“We are suggesting that more information be put on the labels of these products,” said the study’s lead author Priyadarshini Chakrabarti Basu in a release Tuesday. “More studies need to be conducted to understand sublethal effects of chronic exposure.”

Sivanto and Transform are used on crops to kill aphids, leaf hoppers and whiteflies, among other pests. Many of these same crops attract bees for pollination.

Read the extended details of the study here.

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