AUSTIN, TEXAS — Monsanto is being accused of killing off bees around the world, reports NPR.
Bees are being exposed to glyphosate, an ingredient in weed killer, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Scientists painted the bees’ backs with colored dots to track them, and found that glyphosate significantly decreased the amount of healthy gut bacteria in honey bees.
This could increase the chance of bees receiving infections or even dying because of harmful bacteria.
They believe glyphosate may be contributing to “colony collapse disorder,” a phenomenon when bee colonies are wiped out.
Scientists encouraged the public to avoid spraying using weed killers that contain glyphosate when they are spraying their flowers.
The researchers involved say better guidelines are needed to regulate use of glyphosate in order to protect bees.
In a statement, Monsanto denied the accusations and claims “no large-scale study has ever found a link between glyphosate and honey bee health issues.”
The high demand for pollination of almond crops along with pesticides used might be the cause of honey bee deaths.
Of all the almonds consumed in the world, more than 80 percent come from California.
There’s an almond boom happening, with the crop growing 25 percent between 2006 and 2013.
This incredible growth is being blamed for the recent die-off of honey bees.
It takes roughly 1.6 million honey bee hives to pollinate the almond crop each Spring. The majority of which are transported in from other states to meet the demand.
Of all the managed honey bees in the country, 60 percent are utilized for pollinating the almond crops.
According to the Pollinator Stewardship Council, 25 percent of those bees, up to 425,000 colonies full of around 40,000 bees each were damaged or killed.
While honey bee die-offs have occurred periodically in the past, this year’s is much larger and more devastating.
Scientists have been looking into the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder for years.
Causes for this may include pesticides, specifically ones used on almond crops, parasites within bee colonies, and outside stresses including being transported to a new location.
While all these factors might contribute to the honey bee demise, it appears pesticides used in almond crops might be the most at fault.
Specifically adjuvants used to help spread pesticides more evenly. It’s possible these adjuvants have helped the chemicals penetrate the bee’s skin when it was previously impenetrable.
Many beekeepers are refusing to supply the almond crops with their bees next year. This poses an issue for almond farmers who are reliant on bees to pollinate their crops.