David Goulson

on .

("University of Stirling," Professor of Biological Sciences) on the consequences of the bees’s “colony collapse disorder”)
“IN THE winter of 2006 beekeepers in America noticed something odd—lots of their hives were dying for no obvious reason. As the months passed, reports of similar phenomena began coming in from their European counterparts. Mystified scientists coined the label “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) to describe what was happening…Two papers published in Science lend weight to this idea. The first, from a group led by Penelope Whitehorn and David Goulson of the University of Stirling, in Britain, examined the effects these insecticides have on bumblebees, which are closely related to honeybees.”
(From the Economist:  http://www.economist.com/node/21551451)
We had an interview with David Goulson in order to have his opinion about how much the problem is serious and what would be the consequences if the use of pesticides in agriculture continues.
INTERVIEW (May 2012)
The interview was realized and published in May 2012 - (Original interview in English)
Subject: bees’s “colony collapse disorder”: causes, consequences and solutions
1. Question: In your study found that bumblebee colonies exposed to even low doses of imidacloprid (a type of neonicotinoid insecticide)have more likelihood to collapse because of a serious of reasons (such as lost of weight and a lower production of queens). Given that, do you think use of insecticides on crops must be seriously reduced in order to avoid serious damages to some insect species such as bees and bumblebees?

It would seem sensible to stop using neonicotinoid insecticides on flowering crops which bees feed upon, such as sunflower, maize and oilseed rape, so long as an alternative, less harmful means of pest control can be found.
2. Question: In the opposite case, what do you think would happen if the irrational use of insecticides continues and these species will be strongly weakened?
We run the risk that bee populations fall so low that crops start to fail, and wildflower communities collapse. In parts of SW China, they have eradicated bees by overuse of pesticides and now have to hand-pollinate their pear and apple orchards. This would not be practical in Europe!
3. Question: What do you think would be the best method to conciliate both the objectives to guarantee the agriculture productivity and the survival of natural ecosystem? Do you think organic agricultural methods could be the solution?

I guess we would all prefer to eat organic food, if we could afford it. However, the big question is, could organic farming produce enough food to feed the growing human population? I’m not an expert on this. It guess it probably could if we all became vegetarians!
4. Question: In your opinion, by this time, how much the ecosystem has been damaged by human activity?

Not really my area of expertise, but man has radically altered most of the terrestrial habitats in the world. Including the effects of climate change, there will soon be no places on earth which man has not damaged one way or another.
5. Question: Do you think the time to change the way by which humans coexist with the environment has arrived?

Yes, most definitely – if we carry on, the world faces a bleak future….
6. Question: In your opinion when the human will change his behavior toward the ecosystem and what should be done to protect our planet?Some suggestions for governments’ policies.

We need long term, sustainable policies, and we need to forget the endless drive for growth. Growth is, by definition, unsustainable.
7. Question: Finally, What do you suggest the single person could do in order to contribute to the reduction of damages the humans are causing to nature?

Create a wildlife garden. Grow your own food. Recycle. Buy organic. Encourage others to live sustainably.