The Importance of Bee Health

Friday, March 30, 2012
Bee Health

Recently we’ve seen a flurry of media activity around new studies published in Science magazine. Unfortunately, much of what is reported regarding pesticides and bees often contains incorrect, overstated, or misleading information. Bayer’s talked with many mainstream reporters including NY Times and Washington Post to discuss these recent reports and the benefits of this technology in challenge.

Bayer CropScience has reviewed the paper published in Science magazine regarding the potential interaction of imidacloprid and bees. And while we welcome all new research involving bee health, we equally believe care must be taken in drawing conclusions based on relatively artificially generated results, particularly when compared to the weight of evidence from previous studies. In this study, bees were unrealistically exposed to imidacloprid and then allowed to continue to develop in semi-field conditions. Read full statement here.

American agriculture needs these products! Nearly 150 million acres of crops are planted in the U.S. with neonicotinoid treated seeds and over 90% of U.S. corn acreage is treated with them. These products have been readily adopted by the American farmer because of their effectiveness in controlling destructive insect pests, their relatively favorable environmental profile and their ability to significantly increase yields.

The absence of these products would mean a substantial financial loss to growers due to yield loss. In fields with extreme pressure, wireworms can take out 90% of the crop. Hundreds of trials over the years have shown that the average yield increase from neonicotinoids in the U.S. ranges from 6 – 14 bushels per acre for corn. Individual locations with severe pest pressure can experience much greater benefits. Using an increase of 6 bushels an acre as a conservative estimate, these products represent over $2 billion of income to the U.S. farm economy.

It would require over 3 million acres of additional land in production to replace the lost yield if neonicotinoid seed treatments were not available. With a growing population and lack of available land to put into production, it is extremely important that we provide tools to the grower that will maximize yield production.

Pollinators play a crucial role in American agriculture. Bee health is a complex issue. The decline of bees is due to a collection of factors that include introduced pests and parasites, microbial diseases, inadequate diet, climate change, and loss of genetic diversity. For 25 years, Bayer has been committed to improving bee health and promoting sustainable agriculture.

All of us recognize the critical role pollinator’s play and we all have an inherent interest in finding solutions to the real problem of bee health. The recent announcement of Bayer’s Bee Care Center in North America and Europe allows collaboration among bee keepers, scientists, farmers and others to improve honey bee health.

We encourage everyone to learn more about bee health by visiting
http://www.bayercropscience.us/our-commitment/bee-health

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