In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Is CCD caused by pesticides?

Posted by seumasach on March 29, 2009


Judging from this extract from a Spanish study on CCD, the answer is no. Note that this Spanish team has been studying CCD since 1999, years before it officially came into existence.

From CCD: Considerations on its origin

Depopulation and treatment of sunflower seeds with pesticides


The toxicity of certain pesticides  is the cause most often cited for bee losses. For the last six years we have studied the possible effects of certain pesticides such as imidaclopride(Gaucho) or fipronil(Regent), used in the treatment of sunflower seeds and the link to hive populations, following concerns in the sector about their use.

The first studies were done in France following complaints by French beekeepers in the nineties who claimed they were causing bee losses. The actual level of toxicity of these substances is a subject of controversy and recent studies show contradictory results.The European parliament has raised several questions concerning a possible toxic effect of these phytosanitory substances on insects. In many cases, the concentration of the concentrations of these substances in nectar or pollen cannot explain on its own the symptons observed by the beekeepers. Amongst possible causes are certain pathogens(parasites, viruses etc.,) a particular sensitivity amonst certain bee species or as yet unidentified synergistic effects. However,  after the banning of these pesticides for several years in France bee losses remain very high.


The situation in Spain is quite different to that in France. A simple analysis of the data obtained in the course of our studies clarifies the situation perfectly. Imidaclopride is and always has been banned in Spain for sunflower seeds and its use would be completely illegal for this culture. Our analysis, carried out between 1999 and 2001( the years in which the problem was first reported in Spain) of sunflowers seeds, the pollen of the sunflower and the bees and honey from these plantations in Castilla la Mancha have never shown the presence of these molecules or their metabolites. This situation is probably similar in the rest of Spain. With regard to fibronil the situation is different. It is permitted for the treatment of sunflower seeds and was first used in Spain in 2004.Of about 500,000 hectares of sunflower grown this year, only about 5% have been treated with fipronil. The land under cultivation was situated exclusively in the provinces of Cordoba and Seville and in the province of Cuenca. In 2005 about 750,000 hectares of sunflowers were planted in Spain about 8% of which was treated with fipronil. As in the previous year the lands were situated in the province of Cordoba and Seville(90%) and Cuenca( 10%). In addition due to the drought which we suffered that year a large part of the  sunflower cultivated wasn’t used by the beekeepers and this reduced consideably the movement of hives towards this province and this culture.If finally it was shown that these pesticdes were capable of producing effects compatible with CCD, the probability of these occuring in Spain, associated with the cultivation of sunflowers,  would be really very small, indeed non-existant, since their utilisation to this day has been negligible, and consequently, the number of hives in contact with this substance would be very small and, in any case, only in the provinces mentioned. CCD appears equally in the zones of cultivation( treated with fipronil or not) and non-cultivation of sunflowers, and in most cases long after the flowering of this crop, and this, in all the regions of Spain.

 At the moment, we are in the process of carrying out a more in depth field study, with a view to establish possible repercussions of the use of fipronil in treating sunflower seeds. Even though we may not yet have definitive results from these studies, we have not, up to now, found any toxic effects linked to this substance. As far as other substances, used to treat sunflower seed, are concerned, they do not appear to show a level of toxicity, acute or chronic, compatible with CCD, according to the reports from the National Institute for Toxicology on the samples sent from our laboritories

4 Responses to “Is CCD caused by pesticides?”

  1. Ann Lewis said

    What about the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture. They are not toxic to bees or other insects, but they disorientate them sufficiently to stop them feeding on the treated plant and in the case of bees also preventing them finding their way back to their hives. This is why toxicology in terms of it poisoning them is the wrong tree to bark up. It also explains why there are rarely any dead bees in the hives. They fly off to pollinate – land on a plant which has been treated with neonicotinoids and then forget where their hives are.

    I was part of a UK TV documentary film crew which made three 1 hour programmes on the biological effects of electricity so know all about harmful effects of power lines, mobile phone masts and electro-magnetic polution which harms us all.

  2. inthesenewtimes said

    I think you have to include disorientation as a toxic effect even though it would only kill indirectly in your scenario. You sound very certain about this effect: what evidence do you have for it?

  3. Ann Lewis said 9min video explaining the neonicotinoid problem or check out campaigning journalist Sydney Wildsmith’s website on he’s seen the research papers small print which explains about the effects neonicotinoids have on bees. A

  4. inthesenewtimes said

    Yes, the video is right to point out that neonicotinoids have been banned in France. Did that stop CCD? No.
    See my timeline;
    Also they are unused in
    large areas of Spain which are afllcted by CCD:

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