Pesticide Neonicotinoid Puts Bee Populations at Risk

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. residue / ˈrɛz ɪˌdu, -ˌdyu / (n) – a small amount of substance left behind

    Chemical residues are often found in laboratories.

  2. pollinator / ˈpɒl əˌneɪtər / (n) – an insect that helps plants bear fruit or seeds

    Frequent use of pesticides harms pollinators.

  3. regression / rɪˈgrɛʃ ən / (n) – the movement from a higher state to a lower one

    The data showed the population’s regression.

  4. correlation / ˌkɔr əˈleɪ ʃən / (n) – a relation between two things

    A correlation was found between pesticide exposure and cancer; those who had higher exposure had greater risk.

  5. herbicide / ˈhɜr bəˌsaɪd, ˈɜr- / (n) – a substance that kills plants or weeds

    The farmer sprayed herbicide on unwanted plants.


Read the text below.

A group of Swiss scientists discovered that the pesticide neonicotinoid has lethal effects on bees.

A study published last October in the journal Science examined almost 200 honey samples gathered from different continents, except Antarctica. Findings revealed that 75% of these samples contained levels of neonicotinoid, a chemical substance commonly used to shield crops against pests.

Most farmers use this pesticide in crops that bees fertilize. The bees, in turn, absorb the pesticide residues that build up in neonicotinoid-treated plants. Consumption of pesticides like neonicotinoids affects the bees’ nervous system and hinders their ability to collect food. This poses a threat because bees play a big role as pollinators of food crops.

As bee populations worldwide have declined in recent years, scientists have expressed their concern on the role of neonicotinoids in the regression. Although no correlation between the two has been established, scientists argue that the constant presence of these harmful pesticides in bees’ environments puts these pollinators at risk.

As a result, environmentalists are calling for a complete ban on neonicotinoids in bee-frequented crops.

At present, plans to eliminate neonicotinoids in European Union (EU) countries are already in progress. In fact, France has already approved the legislation on neonicotinoid ban, which is expected to take effect in September 2018.

Aside from neonicotinoid, the substance glyphosate has also caught the attention of environmentalists. Glyphosate is known to be the most used herbicide in the world. Some studies found that glyphosate produces negative effects on bees. However, these effects turned out to be non-lethal. Therefore, the European Chemical Agency declared that the substance is safe for public use.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, would a ban on pesticides like neonicotinoid be enough to keep bee populations from declining? Why or why not?
• What industries will most likely suffer from the decline of bee populations? Explain.

Discussion B

• Aside from pesticides and herbicides, what substances are considered harmful to the environment? How do they harm the environment?
• What everyday products used in your country do you think also need to be reviewed for safety (e.g. air fresheners, certain beauty products, cleaning liquids)?

Category : Science/Environment