Is the Reason for Bees Dying in Colony Collapse Disorder Finally Solved?
October 29, 2010
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a disease which causes honeybees to become disoriented and die far from their hives, has kept scientists desperately seeking for the cause.
And no wonder, since honeybees contribute $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the U.S. economy alone.
One suggested culprit has been pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, which kill insects by attacking their nervous systems. Their leading manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, has been fending off lawsuits from angry beekeepers for years now. But recently, a front-page New York Times article pointed to another solution.
Running under the headline "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery," the article reports that a new study claims the cause is actually "a fungus tag-teaming with a virus."
However, one fact that the Times article did not mention is the relationship between the study's lead author, Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, and Bayer Crop Science. Bromenshenk has received a significant research grant from Bayer -- and failed to disclose the conflict of interest to the Times.
"The Times reporter who authored the recent article, Kirk Johnson, responded in an e-mail that Dr. Bromenshenk 'did not volunteer his funding sources.' ... Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the health group at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that while the Bromenshenk/Army study is interesting, it fails to ask the underlying question 'Why are colonies dying?'"