When you learned about the birds and the bees when you were younger, food probably wasn’t a part of the lesson.
But it should have been. Not only birds and bees, but butterflies and other pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food that we consume. According to the National Resources Conservation Service, about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce.
Bees are one of the most critical pollinators. There are more than 3,500 species of native bees that help increase crop yields. A new study suggests that the world’s most widely-used herbicide, glyphosate, is harmful to honeybees.
The new study, which was published in Scientific Reports, concludes that the bees were found to be harmed when glyphosate was used at or below recommended concentrations.
Glyphosate is the main active chemical compound in the Roundup line of weed killing products, as well as several other brands.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains that glyphosate is not harmful to human health when used appropriately, the agency recently released a draft report that concludes the herbicide (glyphosate is also registered by EPA as a pesticide) harms several endangered animal and plant species.
Glyphosate harms the health of pollinator bees by impairing their memory, suggesting that chronic exposure to glyphosate “may have a negative impact on the search and collection of resources and the coordination of foraging activities” by bees, the researchers said.
Moreover, the climbing ability of the bees was impaired. According to US Right To Know, research from Rutgers University shows that cherry, blueberry and apple crop yields are declining because of a lack of pollinators. The falling rates of bee populations are giving rise to concerns about worldwide food security.
Researchers of the new Scientific Reports study suggest that an early-warning herbicide spraying system be implemented in rural areas because beekeepers may not be aware of when farms are sprayed with glyphosate.