Monsanto Co.’s Roundup weed killer has become known for its intended uses, but also for a lot of auxiliary harm. The potent, widely used pesticide has now been found to be harmful to an ally of plants and flowers: honeybees. According to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, glyphosate, the herbicide produced by Monsanto that is commonly branded as Roundup, targets and damages a beneficial enzyme in bee guts and can make them more susceptible to fatal infections.
Glyphosate is the most used agricultural chemical ever, and its widespread use and persistence in the environment may help explain colony collapse disorder and other afflictions that have caused the ruination of global honeybee populations. Bees have been dying in record numbers for years now, impacted by climate change as well as habitat loss, especially in urban areas. In turn, honeybee deaths impact the global food chain, as healthful pollinators are crucial to basic agricultural success and crop yields.
Monsanto has been under increased scrutiny this summer for the harm its supposedly helpful agricultural products can cause. In a landmark case in August, Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages in the first of what is expected to be a string of lawsuits alleging that Monsanto Roundup causes cancer.