[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (15)
    • Antimicrobial (5)
    • Aquaculture (25)
    • Aquatic Organisms (16)
    • Bats (1)
    • Beneficials (35)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (17)
    • Biomonitoring (32)
    • Birds (11)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (43)
    • Children/Schools (226)
    • Climate Change (46)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (96)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (8)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (126)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (209)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (143)
    • Fertilizer (5)
    • fish (5)
    • Forestry (2)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (9)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (11)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (1)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Household Use (4)
    • Indigenous People (1)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • International (336)
    • Invasive Species (29)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (206)
    • Litigation (305)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Microbiata (8)
    • Microbiome (7)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (143)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (1)
    • Pesticide Regulation (701)
    • Pesticide Residues (157)
    • Pets (21)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (1)
    • Preemption (23)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (91)
    • Rodenticide (25)
    • Seeds (2)
    • synergistic effects (6)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (4)
    • Take Action (487)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (3)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (360)
    • Wood Preservatives (24)
    • World Health Organization (3)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

08
Jun

Report Finds Monocropping and Toxic Pesticides Threaten Brazil’s Native Bees as Country’s President Challenges Environmental Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2020) Brazil is home to more than 300 native bee species — many of them stingless — that help pollinate the nation’s valuable agricultural crops and provide other important environmental services. Yet, chemical-intensive agriculture’s intensive pesticide use and devotion to monocropping are a serious threat to these bees, Mongabay reports. Beyond Pesticides maintains that elimination of such pesticides is key to protecting critical pollinators, ensuring a nontoxic food supply, supporting ecosystems and biodiversity, and ensuring safe working conditions for agricultural workers and safety for rural residents. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices, which often avoid monocropping, achieve all of these important goals. Advocates maintain that a transition to such practices is imperative in ensuring a far less toxic future for humans, other residents of Planet Earth, and Nature itself.

The Brazilian Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimates the financial value of pollinators in Brazil, which include bees, moths, bats, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and other organisms, at roughly $8 billion annually. Most honey production in Brazil (and globally) comes from one species, Apis mellifera — a hybrid of European and African species that arrived in the Americas in the early 17th century. A. mellifera is still the dominant species used in managed bee businesses that are rented for agricultural pollination, but native beekeeping is an important, if minority, contributor to pollination, especially of native plants.

Brazil’s native bees do produce honey, which has become treasured by high-end chefs. Native beekeeping is a growing enterprise and the source of other high-value products, such as propolis, bee pollen, beeswax, and royal jelly. In addition, research by Raoni da Silva Duarte, PhD, of the University of São Paulo, indicates that some native bee species’ honeys have antimicrobial effects that may prove useful in fighting pathogens that cause human diseases — suggesting potential medicinal utility.

Native bees provide pollination function for agricultural and non-agricultural plants; some plants can be pollinated only by Brazil’s stingless bees. Generosa Sousa Ribeiro, of the Melipona Beekeeping Department at the State University of Southwest Bahia, says, “Several plants need native species. They are chiefly responsible for pollinating native vegetation, providing cross-fertilization, which guarantees variability in plant species.” Stingless bee colonies have proven especially useful to coffee, rapeseed, cucumber, passion fruit, apple, strawberry, and orange production. Stingless bees also provide a distinctive service: buzz pollination. Mongabay reports, “When they land on flowers, many species, whether social or solitary, can vibrate by contracting their thoracic muscles, thus releasing pollen from the flowers and benefiting crops such as tomatoes and eggplants.”

Jerônimo Villas-Bôas, author of a manual on native, stingless beekeeping in Brazil, comments, “Their appreciation is on the rise. Places that maintained the culture of native beekeeping can now make this an alternative for income generation.” Native stingless bees are increasingly recognized as important “good actors” for their provision of a variety of services for the environment. The expansion of native beekeeping in Brazil is helping to keep forests intact, as honey farmers tend to preserve the environment and restore areas used in their activity. This protects both ecosystems and biodiversity. Mr. Villas-Bôas notes, “Beekeepers seek areas with preserved vegetation,” Mr. Villas-Bôas says. “Stingless beekeeping enables us to conserve the species involved and, indirectly, other animals in the ecosystem such as birds and mammals.”

However, chemical-intensive agriculture’s use of monocropping and toxic pesticides threatens Brazil’s native bees, having already reduced some populations. Monocropping — hundreds or thousands or millions of the same plant planted together — is not a thing found in nature. Robust biodiversity is a hallmark of healthy ecosystems; monocropping gives rise to pest problems because it eliminates the normal, balanced surround of a multitude of other interactive organisms — including those that would predate on pests. The practice thus invites use of pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, which lead to degraded soil health.

In 2019, Beyond Pesticides set out many of the downsides of monocropping — despite its perceived advantages in terms of ease and economy for growers:

  • It robs local ecosystems of natural systems of checks and balances, making monocrops more vulnerable to pests and diseases
  • it reduces available nutrients in soil, thereby inviting addition of synthetic, usually fossil fuel–based fertilizers and other inputs
  • it degrades soils so that they retain moisture far less well and cause increased runoff of chemical inputs, potentially contributing to algal blooms and anaerobic “dead zones” in nearby water bodies
  • it increases topsoil erosion
  • it leads to plants’ increased development of resistance to pesticides, fueling the cycle of resistance, creation of new chemical treatments, which then generate more resistance, etc.

Mr. Villas-Bôas says of monocropping, “Our food production system is the main reason why bees are disappearing. Plant suppression affects [native bees’] natural habitat. In addition, uniform landscapes do not provide the diverse diet that insects need. To make matters worse, there is abusive use of pesticides.” He adds, “The populations [of stingless species] are much smaller than those of A. mellifera, which makes it difficult to reorganize these bees after continued spraying. In 2017, we collected samples in areas of mass spraying, and we found more than 10 pesticides that were lethal for native bees.” Indeed, between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers lost more than 500 million bees. Mongabay reports that some studies show that native stingless bees are even more vulnerable to pesticides than is A. mellifera.

Most of the country’s farmers use pesticides heavily, and the government is all for it. Beyond Pesticides covered the state of pesticides in Brazil in 2019, which was a terrible year for human and environmental health in Brazil. Beyond the massive fires in the Amazon rainforest, caused in part by land clearing for ever-more conventional farming, the health surveillance agency, Anvisa, approved new rules that established risk of death as the sole criterion for determination that a pesticide is toxic. Also in that year, the Ministry of Agriculture approved a whopping 262 pesticides — in addition to those already in use. In 1989, the nation had established one of the world’s toughest pesticide laws; it included utilizing the precautionary principle in evaluation and registration standards. The current state of affairs is anything but precautionary.

The proliferation of large-scale, monocrop farming has directly increased use of pesticides, and enforcement of existing-though-inadequate regulations has not kept up. In addition, the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has been particularly uninterested in enforcement of pesticide laws, and receptive to the plaints of a powerful agribusiness lobby. Given that he ran on a platform touting protected lands as an obstacle to economic growth, and committed to removing barriers to commercial exploitation, environmentalists do not expect, under this administration, that Brazil will adequately protect the country’s natural resources.

The importance of native pollinators, such as Brazil’s stingless bees, is often under-recognized. Ecosystem integrity is both a requirement for them to thrive and exactly what is being degraded through conventional farming practices: use of toxic pesticides and monocropping (among others). Organic, regenerative agriculture contributes to the health and biodiversity of local ecosystems, the quality and safety of food that’s produced, and the health of the pollinators that make more than one-third of our food supply possible. Learn more at Beyond Pesticides’ website coverage of these vital, nontoxic, organic systems.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/brazils-native-bees-are-vital-for-agriculture-but-are-being-killed-by-it/

 

 

Share

Leave a Reply

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (15)
    • Antimicrobial (5)
    • Aquaculture (25)
    • Aquatic Organisms (16)
    • Bats (1)
    • Beneficials (35)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (17)
    • Biomonitoring (32)
    • Birds (11)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (43)
    • Children/Schools (226)
    • Climate Change (46)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (96)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (8)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (126)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (209)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (143)
    • Fertilizer (5)
    • fish (5)
    • Forestry (2)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (9)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (11)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (1)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Household Use (4)
    • Indigenous People (1)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • International (336)
    • Invasive Species (29)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (206)
    • Litigation (305)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Microbiata (8)
    • Microbiome (7)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (143)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (1)
    • Pesticide Regulation (701)
    • Pesticide Residues (157)
    • Pets (21)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (1)
    • Preemption (23)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (91)
    • Rodenticide (25)
    • Seeds (2)
    • synergistic effects (6)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (4)
    • Take Action (487)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (3)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (360)
    • Wood Preservatives (24)
    • World Health Organization (3)
  • Most Viewed Posts