Ready-mixed pesticides that are mixed into pesticide cocktails for more effect are killing bees at twice the rate than feared. This has been revealed by an analysis of 90 studies that measured the impact of reasons for environmental stress, including poor nutrition and pesticides.
Bees and various other pollinating insects are vital for the survival of many staple crops and many other ecological systems. Pollinators are vital for the survival of two-thirds of the seeds and fruits that sustain human food production.
But bees and other pollinators are facing multiple causes of stress due to intensive agricultural practices. Intensive farming has reduced the food source for these pollinators as nectar-rich wildflowers are being cleared, affecting their major source of pollen.
Researchers combined the data obtained from these multiple studies to show how the combination of these stress factors was affecting the pollinating insects. This was adversely affecting their population, killing them off at a faster rate than previously feared.
Commercial formulas for agrochemicals that are being used to create pesticide cocktails could soon need their license to be used on the farmlands.
The usage of managed bees on a large scale has increased the hazard of diseases and parasites. The increasing use of herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides is leading to a large-scale decimation of their population.
Pesticide Cocktails Increasing Stress On Bees And Other Pollinators
The study has found that pesticide cocktails may pose a greater threat than individual pesticides. The various individual threats are substantially amplified by the synergistic interaction between the different types of ingredients that make up the pesticide cocktails.
These findings on the adverse effect of pesticide cocktails could have a significant influence on future policies affecting the health of pollinators.
Dr. Harry Silviter, who headed the study, says that pesticide cocktails act as a force multiplier. If two types of pesticides are each responsible for killing 10% of the pollinator population, one would expect that pesticide cocktails made by combining the two would affect 20% of the bees.
But it doesn’t work that way in reality. The study by the University of Texas professor found that it leads to 30% to 40% mortality among bees and other pollinators. The study is significant because it has taken into account numerous bee varieties and various factors affecting them, including their memory, reproductive capability, foraging behavior, and mortality.
The study also compared interaction among various types of stresses. It included parasites, nutrition or the lack of it, agrochemical stress factors, and also the interaction between various classes of stressors.
Around 15,000 researches were analyzed, and finally, 90 studies were chosen for more analysis. It was apparent from the data that pesticide cocktails used in intensive farming posed a greater threat than individual agrochemicals.
More Regulatory Measures Needed For Controlling Pesticide Cocktails
Dr. Silviter said that the interaction between agrochemicals needs to be considered before granting permission for their use. It should not be limited to individual chemicals or formulas.
Dr. Silviter also stressed the need for more observation and study after licensing to study the effect of each pesticide cocktail on the health of the pollinators.
Merely assuming the effect on bees through individual assessment of agrochemicals does not tell us the actual story of the final effect these pesticide cocktails have on the bees and other pollinators.
The failure to respond to this vital issue continues to expose the pollinators to multiple human-induced stress factors. This will lead to a decline in the pollinator population and adversely affect food production. It will also have other adverse effects to the disadvantage of the ecosystem.
It is time to look beyond the existing focus on individual agrochemicals, nutrition, and parasites and examine the influence of pollution, land-use patterns, the intrusion of various invasive species, and climate change, to get the actual picture of the combined effect on pollinators.
The survival of the pollinators can be ensured through understanding the multiple stressors affecting their survival. It is critical not merely for their survival, but also for the survival of the human species.