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How Do Illegal Crop Control Measures Affect Bees?

As reported by Project World Bee Day, bees play a vital role in the provision of food, as well as in healthcare and other sectors.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía

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One-third of the world’s population is dependent on bees for food production. It is also important to highlight that pollination elevates agricultural produce improves its quality and also increases plant’s resistance to pests. 

On the other hand, Glyphosate is a popular herbicide used in agriculture. As stated by Benbrook, it is the best-selling pesticide in the world, accounting for 71.6% of the active ingredients marketed. The World Health Organization has warned in several opportunities, that when Glyphosate is not properly used,  it can have negative impacts on ecosystems, through the contamination of water, air, food, fauna, and flora.

According to a study by Michener, bees are among the most exposed organisms when it comes to the use of Glyphosate since they are dependant on resources made by angiosperms like pollen and néctar. The mentioned herbicide can potentially reduce food resources, diminishing the diversity of plants and hence decreasing pollen and nectar. Additionally, it can contaminate forage bees at times when they go in search of resources for the hive.

Also read: DO YOU LIKE COFFEE? CHOOSE THE MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PREPARATION

When Glyphosate was first introduced, it was considered slightly toxic and non-toxic for bees. However, recent studies have revealed that it produces negative effects on the survival, development, and even the behavior of bees. A study by Battisti and colleagues evaluated the effects of Glyphosate on the mortality of bees through a meta-analysis. Papers that investigated the effect of this herbicide on bee mortality published between 1945 and October 2020 were included.

The results of the mentioned study indicated that there were clear differences between the control and experimental groups, revealing that the use of Glyphosate increased the mortality of bees. Hence, studies show that glyphosate can be toxic to bees. However, the authors of the meta-analytical review, claim that papers that investigate the toxicity of Glyphosate for bees are scarce, including those that test for lethal and non-lethal effects of the herbicide.

Finally, the authors state that further research is essential to assess the toxicity of Glyphosate on bees, particularly to investigate its effects on gene expression,  enzymatic action, and oxidative stress. Today seems like a great moment to reflect upon the importance of bees for food security and the threats that we are posing for their health and survival.