The honeybee population may be in grave decline around the United States. This is a serious problem, as almost 100 crops need honeybees to transport pollen between flowers, prompting fertilization and jump-starting the production of seed and fruit.
However, there may soon not be enough bees to transport a sufficient amount of pollen, as a result of colony collapse disorder; this is the catch-all name that encompasses a myriad of possible reasons why the honeybees are disappearing, ranging from a new infection to a compromised immune system.
Some economists have estimated this single species is worth as much as $14 billion to the U.S. economy. Moreover, pollinated plants may account for as much as one-third of the average American diet, and possibly the healthiest portion of it.
A German study may have identified a simple answer to the problem: The ongoing blight of genetically modified (GM) crops. When bees were released in a GM rapeseed crop, then fed the pollen to younger bees, scientists discovered the bacteria in the guts of the young ones mirrored the same genetic traits as ones found in the GM crop.