Science & Safety - News in English

Are bees affected by GM crops?

Even though the health authorities have tested the impact of GMO plants on non-target insects and animals before they are put on the market, some beekeepers - often European - remain opposed to Bt-resistant crops, which are resistant to moths and sesamies, insect pests in many field crops and vegetables. They accuse them of killing bees or causing collapse of colonies, a recurrent and abnormal symptom observed since 1998. Is this justified?

"No!”, say researchers in a meta-analysis that has just appeared in Advances in Botanical Research. Agnès Ricroch, professor-researcher at AgroParisTech, says: "We have identified more than 60 studies on the impact of GM crops, including the toxins produced by GM crops on bees at all stages. These include studies or meta-analyses produced between 1994 and 2017 in the laboratory as well as in field conditions. We find that the current generation of Bt plants has no direct lethal or sub-lethal effect on bees. Why?: because the lethal action of the toxin introduced is very specific to two major families of insect pests of crops (lepidoptera and beetles), but not to the hymenoptera, the family of bees, bumble bees, wasps or hornets.

"Conversely, Bt crops made resistant to these insect pests no longer require insecticide spraying, with all the ecological and health benefits it brings to wildlife and human health in countries where standards are not as strict as in Europe. "

The cause of the decline in the number of pollinating insects such as the bee is complicated to understand and, after many years of study, is definitively multifactorial. But it is not attributable to GMOs as such!