Biotech Updates

Honeybees Deaths Linked to Seed Insecticide Exposure

January 13, 2012

Deaths of honeybees in 2010 and 2011 in the US brought tremendous losses to agriculture and will be so in the future if not solved. Scientists at Purdue University found that the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides used to coat corn and soybean seeds, and the talc, are the culprit. The research finding published in PLoS One this month also revealed that insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam are also found at low levels in the soil, on nearby dandelion flowers and in corn pollen gathered by the bees.

Neonicotinoid insecticide-treated seeds are sticky when mixed with talc allows a free flow in the vacuum system used in planters. However, excess talc used in the process is released during planting and routine planter cleaning procedures. The insecticide and the talc which could contain 700,000 times the lethal contact dose has been wiping out one third of the bee population annually in the US.

The original news article can be viewed at