Honey Samples Worldwide Test Positive for Pesticide

Marie Harrington
October 8, 2017

Dr Edward Mitchell, a soil biologist at the University of Neuch√Ętel in Switzerland and study co-author said "On the global scale, the contamination is really striking".

Ann Bryan, spokeswoman for Syngenta which makes the neonic thiamethoxam, said the amount of the pesticide found in honey samples "are 50 times lower than what could cause possible effects on bees".

While the researchers emphasize that the concentrations of neonicotinoids were below levels that the European Union authorizes in food and feed, they do cite some emerging studies on the effects of neonicotinoids in vertebrate animals, such as impaired immune functioning and reduced growth, which may result in a re-evaluation of these restrictions.

After collecting honey from all around the world, researchers from University of Neuchatel discovered that 75 percent of samples were contaminated with traces of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides - even from areas of the world with bans on the pesticide. The total concentration of the five measured neonicotinoids was, on average, 1.8 nanograms per gram in contaminated samples and reached a maximum of 56 nanograms per gram.

The impact on bees of continuing to use these pesticides is expected to have widespread consequences.

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"An interesting point raised in this study is that honey could be used as a tool to sample environmental contamination". Honeybees don't just make honey; about one-third of the human diet comes from plants that are pollinated by the insects. An outside expert, University of Nebraska's Judy Wu-Smart, said the study used too few honey samples to make the broad conclusions the researchers did.

"The study found that almost half of the honey samples exceeded a level of the pesticide that some previous research said weakens bees", asserted the report, adding: "But the pesticide makers say otherwise".

However the impact of neonics on pollinators such as bees has always been a troubling subject for scientists around the world. She wasn't part of the study.

Mitchell and his colleagues set out to study the extent of insecticide exposure by testing 198 samples of honey from spots all over the globe. He called the honey fantastic, but added "I couldn't eat it all the time".

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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