EU ban on bee-killing insecticides

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Bee species are particularly affected by the use of insecticides within the agriculture sector (© Pexels)

The world’s most widely used group of insecticides will be banned from all fields within the next six months by the European Union. The use of neonicotinoids will be prevented in any manner with the aim of protecting important insect pollinators such as honeybees which are known to be vital for global crop pollination.

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Buzzing activity around pollinator health

By Anu Veijalainen, CABI. Reblogged from CABI Hand-picked blog.

Yesterday I cherished the start of spring in England by attending an event devoted to pollinators and pollination at the University of Reading. Most presentations at this meeting organised by the Royal Entomological Society were understandably about bees, but we also heard a few talks highlighting the importance of other pollinator groups.

For about five years now the media has been broadcasting alarming news about declining bee populations especially in Europe and North America. While the amounting evidence points to neonicotinoid insecticides being a major cause for the decline, I learnt yesterday that the situation is actually rather complex, other stressors are also involved, and scientists are still eagerly trying to form a complete understanding of the issue.

European Honey Bee Touching Down
Photo by Autan, under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

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Could Spider Venom Be Used As A Novel Insecticide For Major Crop Pests?

Could spider venom be used as a new novel insecticide? Image ©giovzaid85 via Flickr
Could spider venom be used as a new novel insecticide? Image ©giovzaid85 via Flickr

A new protein discovered in the venom of Australian tarantulas can also kill insect pests that consume the venom orally. The protein known as orally active insecticidal peptide-1 (OAIP-1) was found to be highly toxic to insects that consumed it, with a similar efficacy to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. In particular, the protein was found to be highly toxic to the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa zea.

Many spider species have evolved insecticidal toxins in their venom, which they inject into the prey through their fangs. Consequently it has often been presumed that the venom would not be toxic when ingested orally by insects pests, and therefore would not be suitable for use as an insecticide. Conversely, the scientists in this study discovered it is possible to isolate spider venom peptides with high levels of oral insecticidal activity. The team used the venom from Selenotypus plumipes which is a large tarantula native to Australia which despite its large size is not harmful to humans.

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Rotterdam Convention members agree prior consent required for azinphos-methyl trade

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Azinphos-methyl among the instecticides tightly regulated by the Rotterdam Convention (Image: WSU Extension)

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, CABI Switzerland

It is estimated that 2 million chemical preparations  are for sale around the world[1]. Many of these chemicals have hazards associated with them. An estimated 200,000 people die each year of pesticide poisoning[2]. And yet, it is very difficult for any one country acting on its own to track all of these chemicals and to assess all safety concerns. The Rotterdam Convention supports information exchange on hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals.

At its sixth meeting earlier this month, members of the Convention[3] agreed to add azinphos-methyl to the list of chemicals requiring “prior informed consent” (Annex III of the Convention). Azinphos-methyl is an insecticide used to control mites and moths by interfering with the nervous system. Canada was one of the countries that provided information to support its inclusion in Annex III because the Canadian authorities have found that “the use of azinphos-methyl and associated end-use products entails an unacceptable risk of harm to the agricultural worker”[4]. Continue reading

New Technology Sniffing out Pests

A recent meeting of crop experts has revealed some new ideas for detecting the presence of crop pests before they strike. These ideas include sampling the air for pathogen traces, measuring volatile organic compounds and detecting decreases in leaf tissue content.

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