Insecticides remain in the farmed environment posing a serious risk to bees.
For the start of this project I am taking some time to revisit my information and make sure the project is as up to date and relevant as possible. I have come across a study that shows the contamination rate has fallen by more than half before the ban – but the study shows that the potent insecticides remain prevalent in the farmed environment and still pose a serious risk to bees and other vital pollinators. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and from the growing evidence of serious harm to bees led the EU to ban their use on flowering crops such as oilseed rape, starting in spring 2014. It is key to note that Neonicotinoids at the levels found in the honey are not known to pose any risk to human health. Honey is seen as a good sample of the local environment and work published in October revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids, with 75% of samples from around the world containing the chemicals. The new research, based on scores of samples from across Britain, goes further by comparing contamination rates before and after the EU ban. “While the frequency of neonicotinoid contaminated samples fell once the EU-ban was in place, our data suggest that these pesticides remain prevalent in the farming environment,” said Ben Woodcock, at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). He also led a landmark field trial, published in 2017, that showed neonicotinoids damage the survival of honeybee colonies and harm wild bees.
An interesting piece of evidence to consider taking forward in my project is “Neonicotinoids are mainly used as seed treatments, which allows the pesticide to be taken up throughout the plant, including the nectar and pollen that bees collect. But only 2-20% of the chemical is taken up, with the rest remaining in the soil where it can take years to degrade”. I could create pieces of work that work on this percentage for example if 2-20% of the pesticide has purpose I could work around the parameters of 21-80% of my image being destroyed through the use of be interaction, physical making or pesticide solution to decay the image.
“[Our] results suggest mass flowering crops [such as oilseed rape] may contain neonicotinoid residues where they have been grown on soils contaminated by previously seed-treated crops,” the researchers said in their paper, published in the journal PLOS One. The researchers found a positive correlation between the pesticide residues in honey and the area of oilseed rape grown near the hive. This is also another possible avenue to explore. I could take the material honey and mix this with the pesticide and create a new visual stimulus for my work. I would work possibly with digital and dark room to create a new direction for the project (explore this in sketch form to see if it has any validity)
Finally since the U.K ban has been introduced neonicotinoids can still be used on some crops, such as wheat. Previous research shows contaminated soils can also lead to wildflowers containing neonicotinoids. I should look at how this partial ban isn’t actually as protective of bee species as we were lead to believe. By still allowing the pesticide to be used we are lessening the effect that it can have but we are not getting rid of it.