Let’s give a round of applause to humans, who, once again, are the cause of another catastrophic event.
In the last three months, Brazil has lost over 500 million bees, mostly because of pesticides used and said to be containing substances that are banned in Europe, such as neonicotinoids and fipronil.
500,000,000 bees died in Brazil this year, with most showing traces of Fipronil, an insecticide banned in the EU and a possible human carcinogen according to US EPA
— Assaad Razzouk (@AssaadRazzouk) August 20, 2019
The EU implemented a near-total ban in April 2018 because of neonicotinoids as they can cause very serious harm to bee’s. In that same year, Brazil did the opposite and lifted their pesticide restrictions.
193 Products in Brazil contain chemicals that are banned in the EU, according to Greenpeace’s Unearthed.
The dramatic spike in new environmentally hazardous pesticide products since Brazil has come under the governments of Michel Temer and current president Jair Bolsonaro. The countries pesticide use has gone up by a whopping 770% between 1990 and 2016, making Brazil one of the largest buyers of pesticides worldwide. The country is reliant on them thanks to their heavy reliance on agriculture.
The Pesticide Action Network has a list of highly hazardous pesticides which details their risks to both humans and the environment. Since president Jair Bolsonaro took office, nearly half the listed products have been approved for use in Brazil.
The declining bee population is a major worry for agriculture and world wide food security. Bees pollinate 80% of our flowering crops and a Cornell University study estimated that honeybees pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S annually. #WorldHoneyBeeDay pic.twitter.com/xMFunQSLG0
— Mike McGuire (@ilike_mike) August 18, 2019
There are major concerns for all wildlife and the environment thanks to Anvisa finding 20% of collected samples containing pesticide residue above acceptable levels or containing pesticides that have not been authorized.
Beekeepers in four Brazilian states reported the mass bee deaths. Bloomberg reports 400 million bees were found dead in Rio Grande do Sul alone, while seven million were found in São Paulo, 50 million in Santa Catarina and 45 million Mato Grosso do Sul.
The vice president of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul beekeeping association informed Bloomberg that in less than 48 hours of showing illness, his bee colony was gone.
He explains further:
As soon as the healthy bees began clearing the dying bees out of the hives, they became contaminated. They started dying en masse.
Bees play a vital part in the food chain, with around one-third of the food we eat relying on pollination mainly by bees.
The bee population is suffering worldwide as a result of habitat loss and climate change as well as pesticides.
In the past year in the US beekeepers lost four in 10 of their honeybee colonies, mass deaths have been reported in 20 regions in Russia and at least one million bees died in South Africa in November 2018 as a result of fipronil, BBC News reports.
Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey have all also reported mass die-offs of bees in the last 18 months.
WWF has suggested that to help save bee populations, unused land should be better managed and turned into urban green spaces to help attract bees and thereby help insure their safety and ability to grow stronger in population.