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Pesticides short-circuit bee brains: Study

Published on Mar 28, 2013 6:17 AM
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Bee gather on a honeycomb in Vienna on July 11, 2012. Pesticides used by farmers to protect crops or bee hives can scramble the brain circuits of honeybees, affecting memory and navigation skills needed to find food, scientists said on Wednesday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Pesticides used by farmers to protect crops or bee hives can scramble the brain circuits of honeybees, affecting memory and navigation skills needed to find food, scientists said on Wednesday.

This in turn threatened entire colonies of bees whose pollinating functions are vital for human food production, they wrote in the journal Nature Communications.

The team observed honeybee brains in the lab after exposing them to neonicotinoid pesticides used on crops, and organophosphates, the most widely used group of insecticides in the world - in this case coumaphos - sometimes used to control mite infestations in beehives.

Exposed to similar concentrations of the two pesticides as they would encounter in the environment, the learning circuits of the bee brains soon stopped working, said the researchers.

 
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