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  1. #1
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    Default Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    I have read for example that 90% of the sugar beet (the sugar most use to make syrup for our bees) production in the USA is genetically modified. Seems the growth in GM food crops have coincided with the decline in the honey bee population in my opinion. Would like to know what others think? Have not seen this topic discussed in the bee forums

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Quote Originally Posted by jtow View Post
    I have read... that 90% of the sugar beet [sugar] in the USA is genetically modified. ...Have not seen this topic discussed in the bee forums
    I suspect if you do a search for this topic you will find it coming up, time and time again. This topic has been discussed, cussed, and recussed, adnauseam. Yet there is still no creditable scientific evidence little less proof positive that GM foods are a hazard to either bees or humans. Can you provide this missing proof? If you cannot provide proof, then in my eyes, and in the eyes of a growing number of others, this subject is looking more and more like chem-trails, or space alien abductions.

    That said, there are some beekeepers here who claim their bees are "awash in a sea of GM crops". And that these bees are doing better than bees working old fashion crops. So perhaps your question should be, "How are traditional or non GM crops harming bees?"

    From here on out I will watch this thread unravel from the sidelines, go ahead, knock yourself out.
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 04-09-2011 at 08:56 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    That's why I posted this thread, is there any research showing nay or yeah? Or is there any anecdotal experiences beekeepers have had that would lead them to lean towards GM being 'good' or 'bad'?

    As to your comment 'space aliens', I personally don't subscribe to the 'better living through chemistry' mindset.

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Good thing we have aluminum foil these days!

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    If you consider that GMO crops are packaged with particular pesticides, then the answer to your question would be yes.

    http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/honey-b...esticides.html

    "Perhaps a lesser known fact is that neonicotinoid pesticides are also used in GM crops such as Smartstax Corn, which is treated with Clothianidin, a neonicotinoid."

    For example:

    1. Guttation drops kill bees outright.
    2. Pulverized seed coatings blow as a dust across fields and is brought into the hive by bees.
    3. Neonics have been shown to decrease hive level immunity (glucose oxidase) in the presence of Nosema ceranae.


    So you see, there is an issue with some of the pesticides applied to GMO crops, especially maize.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    A lot of my bees are sitting near fields of BT cotton, modified soybeans, GM corn. Does not seem to bother the bees. I am more worried about a stinkbug infestation that might develop in cotton that requires a pesticide spray. Worrying about GM crops that bees might work is like worrying about whether the bees are picking up toxic heavy metals from working clover or vetch blooming along highways. Yes, it does show up in analysis but can anyone prove that it is harming the bees or humans??? The same would apply to GM crops. You should have bigger and better things to worry about like keeping your bees free from mites, CCD and Nosema. And preparing for a big honey crop. TK

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    To answer the question, no. There is to date no research that I'm aware of that plants simply being GM, in isolation of other variables, causes harm. What many people don't understand is that much, perhaps even most, of the genetic modification is actually to produce plants that are tolerant to herbicides not pesticides.

    To have a meaningful discussion on how GM crops affect bees (as opposed to the broader GM debate: genetic contamination etc), we need to move beyond the Frankenstein complex and consider what the plant was modified to DO. Roundup-tolerant GM crops, for example, can certainly harm bees indirectly through loss of forage that herbicide use promotes. GM crops that produce fungicides may affect the microflora in bees' guts, altering their ability to synthesize some nutrients for example. Dianna Sammataro is pursuing some interesting research on this front.

    Now if you're talking GM crops that produce neonicitinoids, then that's a neonic debate and not a GMO debate. Actually, now that I think on it, I believe the GMOs that produce systemic pesticides are pyrethroids like Clothianidin and not neonics right? Neonics I believe, while systemic, are applied as drenches, seed-coatings or sprays (and introduced and taken into the plant as opposed to produced by the plant itself).

    Just trying to frame the discussion factually.
    Bees, brews and fun
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    O.K.
    Here's a study that addresses the question.

    http://www.cib.org.br/estudos/estudos_alimentares16.pdf

    >>(Table 3)
    Serine protease inhibitors:

    Adult survival (in lab and
    in colony)-High concentrations
    reduce survival by a few
    days; low concentrations
    have no effect

    Adult digestive proteases-Inhibition of some
    proteases

    Adult flight activity (protein fed to colony)-Flight activity begins a few
    days earlier (when fed a
    high concentration)

    Olfactory learning
    response-One inhibitor offered in
    sugar reward reduced
    ability to learn; others did
    not

    Larval survival-High concentrations
    reduce survival1<<

    Is that what you mean by 'factual'?

    Here's a more recent study on the question:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...0/fulltext.pdf

    >>
    Together, these results
    suggest that the visual learning ability based on visual
    orientation was not significantly affected in honey bees fed
    CCRI41 cotton pollen but honey bees exposed to imidacloprid-
    treated pollen were perturbed
    <<

    So, in this case, it wasn't the GM product, but the pesticide.
    Last edited by WLC; 04-10-2011 at 10:44 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Um, sure . However reading the whole study is much more revealing. Table 3 for example notes that 75% of "novel proteins" have no effect or are non-harmful. And it doesn't discuss which proteins actually manifest in colonies that forage on GMO crops. There is no correlation noted between GMO plants as a whole with morbidity, and potential correlations with SOME proteins, and indeed was not based on ACTUAL contamination in actual colonies at all. They do cite some studies that try to explore the potential, but from the study:

    "The authors pointed out that the experimental system they used represented a “worst-case scenario” for the presence of GM material in honey and that “the concentration of a given, potentially toxic pollen-borne protein is expected to be very low in natural honey made from nearby transgenic plants”.

    And:

    "The apparent lack of appropriate controls in this study [one of the main studies cited] (honey from a region where only non-GM oilseed rape was grown) is also unfortunate. The bar, pat and nos genes are all derived originally from common bacteria (Streptomyces and Agrobacterium) (A. Gleave, pers. comm.; Wehrmann et al., 1996), suggesting that they may commonly contaminate natural products such as honey."

    Most of the novel proteins in GMO crops, the bT-producing ones, are the non-harmful ones. It's not fair to pick small, out-of-context bits of data and make a broad generalization on it. Additionally, statements like:

    "If you consider that GMO crops are packaged with particular pesticides, then the answer to your question would be yes."

    are potentially misleading: that's like saying since firearms are usually discharged in sunlight, then sunlight causes firearm fatality (it's not, it's being struck by a bullet that causes the harm. Sunlight is present but not necessarily causal). Citing pesticide injury as a GMO-etiology morbidity since they're often used at the same time is just not how causality is determined.

    I'm not saying that GMOs may not be harmful, just saying there's a way to determine whether they are. One haves to read the whole study to cite it meaningfully.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Well, at least the GM crops themselves weren't lethal to Honeybees.

    However, is there such a thing as GM seeds that aren't coated in a pesticide these days?

    Also, let's not forget that there are many hundreds of species of native bees (and other pollinators) that may be affected by the products of GM plants. The impact of these GM crops and pesticides on these native bees isn't a requirement for the approval of these products. We may never know until it is too late.

    Here's a study showing fewer native bees in GM crops.

    "WILD BEE ABUNDANCE AND SEED PRODUCTION IN CONVENTIONAL,
    ORGANIC, AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED CANOLA"
    LORA A. MORANDIN1 AND MARK L. WINSTON


    http://ucbiotech.org/issues_pgl/ARTI...ton%202003.pdf

    These studies are out there if you take the time to look.

    "Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?"

    Why yes, as a matter of fact it has.
    Last edited by WLC; 04-10-2011 at 11:18 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Like I wrote earlier, Most of my bees are near cotton, corn and soybean. They are doing A-OK. They have been near these locations for decades. If everything WLC was worried about happened to my bees, I would have long been "GM retired" out of the bee business years ago.....BT cotton--genetically modified to fight the boll worm....Round up ready Soybean, cotton---genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide Round Up.....genetically modified corn----genetically modified to fight the corn ear worm.....I have never heard from any of my farmer friends of a crop genetically modified crop to outright kill honeybees!!. Without genetically modified crops, WLC, you would not have food on your table or clothes on your back. And more of your food you eat will come from third world countries where quality concerns are questionable. Worry about something else substantial like keeping your bees healthy. TED

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Ted:

    I consume the products of GM crops like everyone else.

    I haven't heard of GM crops being fatal to Honeybees.

    I've heard of certain neonics being fatal to Honeybees, and being banned in several countries for that reason.

    I've also found several GM crop studies which show a marginal effect on some aspects of Honeybee biology.

    However, I've also found a study which has shown that there are fewer native bee pollinators (not Honeybees) on GM canola crop when compared to regular and organic canola.

    Don't you find that to be an unexpected effect of GM crops on bee biology? I certainly do. It's simply fascinating to me.

    Isn't it a coincidence that I'm instructing students who are testing food products for the presence of GMOs using GMO, DNA primers and PCR (the polymerase chain reaction)? You know, biotechnology.

    I'm also working on a DNA barcoding project. I've got bench space in a genomics lab. I've worked on identifying Honeybee pathogens from Honey. Etc., etc. .

    Ted, I agree. I will work on keeping my bees healthy.

    But Ted, Biology is my thing. As is wildlife conservation, and environmental chemistry.

    I'm just 'funny' that way.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Here's a study showing fewer native bees in GM crops.

    "WILD BEE ABUNDANCE AND SEED PRODUCTION IN CONVENTIONAL,
    ORGANIC, AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED CANOLA"
    LORA A. MORANDIN1 AND MARK L. WINSTON


    http://ucbiotech.org/issues_pgl/ARTI...ton%202003.pdf

    These studies are out there if you take the time to look.

    "Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?"

    Why yes, as a matter of fact it has.
    Well, once again, even my brief perusal (< 1 min) of the actual study provides some important context. The study does NOT study harm to bees from GM crops, only how well-pollinated the crops were and how many bees they found in the fields. These are very different considerations, subject to many additional factors.

    For example, and this is just the first item I noticed, from the cited study:

    "Although insecticide treatments were similar be-
    tween GM and conventional fields, GM fields were
    treated with Roundup, a highly effective herbicide,
    which resulted in lower weed diversity and abundance
    within GM fields than in conventional fields ( unpub-
    lished data), possibly affecting bee abundance."

    As beekeepers we know that bees are more likely to forage in greater numbers in resource-dense areas than in resource-poor areas.

    An effective control (reducing the variables in an experiment to make an apples-to-apples comparison) was not performed in this instance, and the study doesn't investigate GM crop's effects anyways as I note above.

    Additionally, the study also notes a pollination deficit in non-GMO but non-organic (traditional) fields as well, which further indicates that it may not be likely to be the GMO element that is causal here.

    I think the original question posed (and my original response) remains relevant. If the premise is that GMO forage harms bees, let's talk about whether GMO forage harms bees.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    The question asks, "has any research been done on the effect of GM food on bee biology ?

    For my efforts, the answer is yes.

    However, there's nothing sinister there.

    Ben, you've brought up an interesting point in the study. If you use roundup ready crops, the roundup will reduce the forage available to bees.

    My point being this: GM crops will generally come as a 'package' along with pesticides. It's the pesticides that seem to cause the main effects on bees.

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    As someone who has actually planted the crops mentioned, I never recieved any pesticide in a box to be put on my GM crops. Those in the environmentalist lobby need to understand that the studies are slanted the way that maximizes the next research grant and are highly suspect in the current political environment. We need honest non shrill discussion of this subject. The thicker stand of canola has the densest plant population and will produce more nectar. The primary weed species that are controlled by the roundup are grasses which may produce some incidental pollen but no nectar. Those grasses also suck all available moisture out of the stand which again inhibits the crop from producing nectar. I would personally keep my bees away from the mustards because it is a lower quality honey that sugars at the drop of a hat. But if you want something to put in a drum, I don't think it hurts the bees.

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Vance:

    So are you saying that you buy roundup ready crops, but don't use roundup?

    As for the pesticides coming in a box, some of it does come as a seed coat (or maybe in bags, drums, etc.).

    However, I'm doing my best not to crackup at the following:

    "Those in the environmentalist lobby need to understand that the studies are slanted the way that maximizes the next research grant and are highly suspect in the current political environment...

    ...We need honest non shrill discussion of this subject."

    No bias whatsoever.

    Gents:

    The question at the top of this thread was a simple one.

    The answer is still yes.

    The reason why GM plants don't kill Honeybees is that they have to be tested against Honeybees before they are approved.

    The pesticides are a different story. They can have off target effects.

    But, who uses a GM crop without the pesticide? Wouldn't the other farmers tease you about it when you don't?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    I have never seen roundup damage a non plant. It is not a pesticide, it is a herbicide that is cheap and effective. You can not live in this society without using products produced more affordably becasue of it. Children all over the world are alive and eating because of it.

    Seed coating that inhibits cut worms and such do come with a lot of seed. We used to use mercury for the same purpose, we don't anymore because it built up to levels that if you ate 4000 potatoes daily grown in ground it was used on for fifty years it reached levels determined to be toxic by the environmentalist industry. The only mercury poisoning I ever actually know happend was some idiot fed the treated grain he did not plant to hogs and then the hogs to his family. It destroyed his children. But you can't run a civilization for the lowest common denominator. I am not being shrill I am just speaking the truth as I see it. Speaking the non green line is not being shrill.
    Last edited by Barry; 04-10-2011 at 06:35 PM. Reason: language

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    I have never seen roundup damage a non plant.
    Are you a non-plant? Try drinking some Roundup. Maybe spray a bit directly into your beehives and see what happens. Feed some to your dog and kids. Then tell me it doesn't hurt non-plants.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    You can not live in this society without using products produced more affordably becasue of it.
    I can, and I do. And I'm not a rich yuppie either. I already eliminated anything with soybeans and corn from my diet years ago; wheat is almost out of it. I actually do buy food locally, from producers I know and trust... and it's cheaper than Walmart. Don't tell me I can't live without Roundup.


    Some years ago, I had a conversation with a Nebraska farm kid. He told me about this wonderful new invention they had -- Roundup Ready Soybeans. "What's that?" I asked.

    "Well, we plant these beans, and we can spray Roundup on the field, and it'll kill the weeds without hurting the beans."

    "Wow. Pretty technological and spiffy. But isn't Roundup poisonous?"

    "Well... yeh..."

    "And you're spraying a poison on a food crop that people are presumably going to eat..."

    "Y--... uh... hm."

    The people that grow this stuff don't even think about it.

    Want to know what else is happening, at least on the farms of some people I've talked with in Nebraska and Kansas? Weeds are getting resistant to Roundup. They've got "Roundup Ready" pigweed that grows 12 feet tall. Heck, it's more than resistant; Roundup acts like fertilizer to it. So what next? Another herbicide, more genetic monkeying... and in another decade, it's useless too? Dow is working on a 2,4-D resistant gene. Isn't that wonderful? Next stop, the full Agent Orange. (And to think, pigweed is edible. Delicious, even. The cultivated variety is called "quinoa" and sells for a ludicrously high price at the stores. Far more profitable than the corn they're trying to keep it out of.)

    Oh, Bt crops too... oh the miracles. Sure, Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria, and organic farmers use it. But the bugs it's supposed to kill are quickly evolving immunity. Then what? For one thing, there goes the effectiveness of the ONE pesticide organic growers can use.

    Yeah, the EPA and the FDA and the USDA say a little Roundup in your corn won't hurt ya; a little atrazine in your tomatoes won't kill ya; a wee bit of 2,4-D won't do you in; a few PPM of methyl bromide on your strawberries won't put you in the ER right away... but don't you think it all adds up? Those studies haven't been done.

    I don't care how you slice this, or how much propaganda about "feeding the world" people parrot. Anyone with half a brain and eyesight past the end of his nose can see that chemical warfare agriculture is not a sustainable system. The whole paradigm is flawed, regardless of how a few beehives are or are not affected.
    Last edited by Apiator; 04-11-2011 at 12:39 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    In your godlike wisdom, What 2/3 of the worlds population are you going to condemn to a death of disease and starvation when you decree these things can no longer be used? I am not advocating drenching bees with roundup. Getting bees wet chills and kills them. Vaccines aren't natural either, do we stop vaccinating children. My father the lifelong conservationist and farmer had a curse for dirty word environmentalists. "May they starve to death in a cave! In the dark. Moderation in all things.

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    Default Re: Has Any Research Been Done On The Effect Of GM Food On Bee Biology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    In your godlike wisdom,

    Because it takes "godlike wisdom" to question the sanity of polluting our food, water, air with toxic chemicals...

    I thought it was just common sense. But hey, thanks for the vote of confidence!


    Just tell me one thing, Vance G. How long do you think we can keep up with the escalating chemical war and population growth, until it all comes crashing down anyway? There WILL be a point at which population outgrows ag capacity. All you're doing is postponing the inevitable.

    Oh well. I hear a brand new synthetic protein, Soylent Green, will hit the market in 2015.

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