Residue from potentially harmful pesticides has been discovered in 75 per cent of honey sampled from around the world, according to a study conducted by Swiss scientists that was published in the journal Science in October 2017.
The researchers sampled 198 different honeys sourced from every continent, excluding Antarctica, testing for the presence of five unique neonicotinoid pesticides that are frequently applied to crops. These insecticides are so efficient that by 2008, they accounted for one quarter of the global insecticide market – and that rate continues to increase.
According to the study, these neonicotinoids are absorbed by plants and transported to all organs – including flowers, resulting in contaminated pollen. Increasing evidence suggests that large-scale use may lead to significant environmental impacts, leading scientists to start investigating the chemical’s impact on landscapes around the world.
“Despite increasing research efforts to understand the patterns of neonicotinoid uses and their effects on living organisms, we lack a global view of the worldwide distribution of neonicotinoid contamination in the environment to evaluate the risk,” the study states.
To help determine the potential risk of current contamination levels, citizen scientists from around the world sent individual samples of locally produced honey to the researchers’ laboratory in Switzerland. According to the study, the residue level of pesticides found in honey provides a measure of possible contamination in the surrounding landscape.
“Many of our samples were from very remote regions,” said Professor Edward Mitchell with the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, who co-authored the study. “We also aimed to (include) isolated oceanic islands, and places in central parts of continents far away from industrial areas.”
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