The use of pesticides that contain substances banned in Europe, like neonicotinoids and fipronil, is probably the main cause for the loss of more than 500 million bees in Brazil in the last three months.
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
In April 2018, the EU implemented a near-total ban due to neonicotinoids since they can seriously harm bees. Yet, Brazil did the opposite in the same year and lifted their pesticide restrictions.
Namely, 193 Brazilian products contain chemicals that are banned in the EU.
The dramatic increase in new environmentally hazardous pesticide products since Brazil has come under the governments of Michel Temer and current president Jair Bolsonaro. During this time, the use of pesticides has increased by a whopping 770% between 1990 and 2016, and Brazil is one of the largest buyers of pesticides worldwide.
Since president Jair Bolsonaro took office, half of the listed products by The Pesticide Action Network have been approved for use.
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
The mass bee deaths have been reported by beekeepers in four Brazilian states. Around 400 million bees were found dead in Rio Grande do Sul alone, 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 claimed that in less than 48 hours of showing illness, his bee colony was gone. He explained that as the healthy bees began clearing the dying bees out of the hives, they became contaminated and died en masse.
According to Carlos Alberto Bastos, president of the Apiculturist Association of Brazil’s Federal District, the death of the bees is a sign that we are being poisoned.
The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency discovered that about 20 percent of samples had pesticide residues higher than permitted levels, and some of them were even unauthorized pesticides.
This situation has encouraged many Brazilians to turn to organic products, although the country is in a recession.
All around the world, the bee population is suffering due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change. In the last year and a half, mass die-offs of bees have been reported in the US, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Turkey.
One way to save bees, according to WWF, is to manage unused land better and convert it into urban green spaces to attract bees, ensure their safety and ability to grow stronger in population.
A global study published in the journal Biological Conservation found that over 40 percent of insect species are at risk of extinction within decades unless there is an overhaul of the agricultural industry.
Additionally, conservationists have also urged gardeners to let their lawns grow wild since wildflowers are an increasingly important source of nectar for pollinators.