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Cell phones + bees = are we going to starve?

ridetoofast

scarred, broken and drunk
Mar 31, 2002
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crashing at a trail near you...
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?
Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees
By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross
Published: 15 April 2007

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Dr George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: "I am convinced the possibility is real."

The case against handsets

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.

Most research on cancer has so far proved inconclusive. But an official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset.

Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today's teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts. And, more prosaically, doctors have identified the condition of "text thumb", a form of RSI from constant texting.

Professor Sir William Stewart, who has headed two official inquiries, warned that children under eight should not use mobiles and made a series of safety recommendations, largely ignored by ministers.
 

syadasti

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Apr 15, 2002
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some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

...

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

...

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.
Average lifespan of bees:

The queen(one per hive) can live up to five years. The worker bee (thousands per hive) is female and lives about 35 days. A male drone bee (hundred per hive) can live up to 90 days.
Cellphone are not a new technology and they haven't just recently spread to other countries. The UK is filled with mobile phones too. Bees don't live long - heh - decades to develop cancer, right. That article doesn't make any sense.

These causes are much more likely:

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
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This story is byproduct of a trend of hypochondriac idiots in the UK claiming they are sensitive to/sick/allergic from EMF from modern electronics. Modern electronics are far more efficient than they use to be and they have to certified not to output high levels/cause interference not to mention the EMF follow inverse square law so the amount of radiation actually affecting any given person/beehive/etc is barely measurable unless you are right on top of the transmitter. Good old fashion TV/radio station transmitters, CB radios, shortwave, microwaves, common household electric motors, etc would be putting out more EMFs than modern cellphones or wifi.

Next generation technologies will drop transmitting power exponentially - exciting stuff:

http://www.xgtechnology.com/

xG® Technology, Inc. has produced a new low-power, long-range communications technology called xG Flash Signal. xG Flash Signal uses single cycle modulation to boost the range of wired and wireless communication devices. Incorporated into products as a new physical layer "PHY" chipset, xG Flash Signal also reduces a device's RF output power, resulting in improved battery life.

Field performance results have shown xG Flash Signal capable of wirelessly sending high speed data 3 times farther on average than other approaches at equal transmit power, height and frequency. This improvement in range can reduce the amount of network infrastructure required to cover a given area by 25-fold.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
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A level headed article with plausible causes:

nj.com said:
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture heard testimony from commercial apiarists, as well as scientists, regarding the new threat to the American beekeeping industry. One of the experts, Penn State University entomologist Diana Cox-Foster, said that a recently convened research group is looking into three hypotheses for the unprecedented die-off:

# New or re-emerging pathogens

# Environmental pesticides suppressing the immune system of bees

# A combination of stresses working together to weaken bee colonies and cause final collapse.

Tassot and his wife believe they know why their bees have disappeared.

"We have suspicions about pesticides," he said. "We noticed most of the dead hives are close to cornfields. ... And when we asked other beekeepers what was the principle crop near their hives, they said corn, corn, corn."

Simone, of Morris Township, agrees. "When I spoke with other beekeepers they say all their hives with heavy losses are near cornfields."

Many farmers in the United States and around the world rely on genetically engineered corn to survive the assault of crop-killing insects. The seeds are coated with a systemic pesticide that is essentially built into the corn as it grows.

One of the chief chemicals used is a neurotoxin called imidacloprid, which is manufactured by the German company Bayer CropScience. Imidacloprid works by blocking a pathway in insect brains that results in an accumulation of a neurotransmitter which, in insects, leads to paralysis and death.

At sublethal doses, however, imidacloprid is toxic to honeybees. In a 2001 article in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, German scientist Eric Zeisstoff wrote that his research "indicated that bees affected by imidacloprid suffer problems with orientation. Bees with a particular level of imidacloprid contamination at 500 meters from the colony did not return to the hive at all."

In the mid-1990s, imidacloprid was implicated in a catastrophic honeybee die-off in France where honey production was cut in half between 1995 and 2002. In 2003 alone, more than 150 million honeybees were lost in France, and since then some uses of imidacloprid have been banned.

The reason for the die-off may not be so simple, however. Scientists also have discovered that adult bees in hives suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder carried fungal infections that may indicate the immune system of the bees may be compromised, contributing to the collapse.
 

BurlyShirley

Rex Grossman Will Rise Again
Jul 4, 2002
19,185
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I find that article highly suspect.

I don't know anything about the freakonomics blog, but there is some definite misinformation going on there.

The part where it states that:
When, in 2000, the first weeds resistant to genetically engineered (herbicide-resistant) crops appeared, environmentalists turned it into a cautionary tale about the decline in diversity of cultivated plant breeds

First off, that makes no sense. How is a weed resistant to a crop? I could see pesticide resistant weeds, but that's not what the article says.

Anyway it continues with...

a recent report from the Dutch Center for Genetic Resources has revealed that seed biodiversity has actually increased since the advent of GE seeds
Well no sh*t. You start genetically engineering new plants... there is all of a sudden added diversity... duh!

The link to the report states that:

The decrease in biodiversity in the natural environment must lead to a decrease in the genetic variety of breeds among plant breeding companies. That would seem logical, wouldn't it? But it isn't the case. The genetic diversity in new breeds at plant breeding firms has increased slightly over the past few decades, after a fall in the nineteen sixties.
What? No... why would that be logical? If you kill off a ton of native plants (which is actually the concern of environmentalists) that doesnt mean you can't engineer 25 times more than that in the lab. That's not a "win". You have still lost natural diversity. That's the point.


Further:
Perhaps most compellingly, an article in the recent issue of Conservation reports that, while indeed bee populations have declined in the U.S. since 2004, the global population of managed bees has, since the 1960s, risen by 50 percent while honey production has gone up 100 percent. “U.S. bee losses,” writes Nathanael Johnson, “have been dwarfed by increases in places such as China, Argentina, and Turkey—countries which now dominate the honey supply.” Additionally, “the production of pollinator-dependent crops has quadrupled.”
How about that for some fuzzy ass math to convolute the issue?
Yeah, as massive farming operations took off in other countries in the 60s bee populations grew. No sh*t. How does that erase this earlier quote in the article?

As it became clear that this decline was indeed real (40-50 percent in the US since 2004),
So, the decline is real, but it's not real because it hasn't happened everywhere. And bees in the 60s werent effected.

Media reports are beginning to catch on. In The Economist, a British apiary professor, speaking on the cause of CCD, was recently quoted as saying, “People want it to be genetically modified crops, pollution, mobile phone masts and pesticides.” But, he added, it’s “almost certainly none of these.” The BBC reported that CCD is actually a cyclical event rather than an anomalous tragedy. An Australian entomologist quoted in the article explained, “Researchers around the world are running around trying to find a cause of the disorder—and there’s absolutely no proof that there’s a disorder there.
Okay, so environmentalists are whacko for wanting to pin it on seemingly obvious causes. Researchers are stupid because there actually isn't even a disorder. And the BBC interviewed one australian entomologist who deems this to be true.

Even though this congressional report: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33938.pdf (cited in this very article) clearly explains how recent die-offs are different from past ones, all of which had attributable causes.

Current bee colony losses seem to differ from past losses in that colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to return to the hive (which is largely uncharacteristic of bee behavior); bee colony losses have been rapid; colony losses are occurring in large numbers; and the reason why these losses are occurring remains still largely unknown.

....so WTF is the point of the article?
The declines aren't real?
The declines are real, but they're part of a natural cycle?

Environmentalists are dumb for jumping to conclusions? That seems to be the major theme, but this article is really disingenuous about how it goes about doing so? Like I said, I dont know freakonomics, but these sound like the global warming denialist tactics of attacking random scientists and pointing out red herrings instead of addressing the issue at hand.
 
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syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
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Must spread rep. That article updated nothing and was just an odd assortment of useless misinformation. The author has no clue what he is talking about.
 

DaveW

Space Monkey
Jul 2, 2001
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CCD is more likely to be a product of poisoning by pesticide...... Studys done in France showed a VERY strong link between certain pesticides Fipronil
/imidacloprid (IMD) and CCD, France banned it's use and CCD rates dropped once the pesticide worked its way out of the soil (IMD and Fipronil take five years for it's bio availability to bees to tail off, it is a rather persistent molecule).
I was reading up on this a year ago, I highly recommend you all get a copy of "A spring without Bees" and read it.
 
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Ciaran

Fear my banana
Apr 5, 2004
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Must spread rep. That article updated nothing and was just an odd assortment of useless misinformation. The author has no clue what he is talking about.
Welcome to Ridemonkey!

:p Most of us here have no clue of what we're babbling about. Except N8. He was a genius.