Friday, June 14, 2013


Honey is much valued as a food material besides having many therapeutic qualities attributed to it. As it is a product extracted from Beehives where the bees process the syrupy material they suck out of many types of flowers, protecting these creatures from infection and other disease causing bugs is a prerequisite to ensure safety of honey produced by them. Honey was recently the focus of attention internationally after it was found that honey imported from China was heavily contaminated with antibiotics. Honeybees afflicted by infectious diseases are reported to be routinely treated with antibiotics and a part of this was found leached into the honey produced by these bees. Some countries even banned import of Chinese honey because of the wide prevalence such practices by beekeepers in China. In yet another instance of threat to honeybees is there is this report which speaks of a move by the EU to impose a ban on the popular pesticide Neonictinoids and is being welcomed widely because of the adverse impact these pesticides have on the bees. The Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is becoming a matter of concern in many countries is now being attributed to widespread use of neonicotinoids. Here is a take on this interesting development which if ends up in a real ban will give the honeybees a fresh lease of life.    

"There have been demonstrations in various EU cities, from London to Sofia, in favour of a ban. The companies that produce the pesticides reject the findings of the food safety agency investigation and have offered alternatives that they say will preserve bee populations. The April 29 vote was 15 in favour of the restrictions, eight against and four abstentions. Since the previous vote, after a series of protests by beekeepers, Bulgaria changed its stance from abstaining to voting for a ban. Tonio Borg, European Health and Consumer Commissioner, said: "Although a majority of member states now supports our proposal, the necessary qualified majority was not reached. The decision now lies with the Commission. Since our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission will go ahead with its text in the coming weeks. "I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22 billion euro annually to European agriculture, are protected," Borg said. The proposal restricts the use of three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for seed treatment, soil application (granules) andfoliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals. In addition, the remaining authorised uses are available only to professionals.
Exceptions will be limited to the possibility to treat bee-attractive crops in greenhouses, in open-air fields only after flowering. The restrictions will apply from December 1 2013. The European Commission said that as soon as new information is available, and at the latest within two years, the Commission will review the conditions of approval of the three neonicotinoids to take into account relevant scientific and technical developments". 

So far honey as a healthy food suffered from antibiotics contamination, adulteration and Clostridium bottulinum poisoning and the new threat perception comes from the indiscriminate use of neonicotinoids on some crops. Will honeybees will end up in the category natural species that face extinction due to man's reckless action to outsmart all other species on this earth for his selfish goals? It is sad that when new pesticides are created, their impact on the nature is largely ignored and the result is devastation that is being witnessed as in the case of neonicotinoids vis-a-vis honeybees. Even now it is not too late for the world to take effective action to do whatever is possible to protect honeybees these tiny creatures have an important role in preserving the plant kingdom. Without honeybees 80% of the plants will disappear from the face of this earth as they have an important role in producing seeds through pollination of flowers and these seeds propagate the various species on a perpetual basis.  

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