The Council of Agriculture on Thursday said that three insecticides are to be banned for use on litchi and longan fruits for two years in an attempt to address beekeepers’ concerns that farmers’ abusing insecticides has caused large-scale bee colony deaths.
However, no exact date has yet been set for the ban to take effect.
Many beekeepers had complained that litchi and longan fruit farmers’ use of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, resulted in high death rates in bees and poor harvests of longan honey, Deputy Director-General of Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Feng Hai-tung (馮海東).
An expert forum concluded that beekeepers’ poor harvests were due to the influence of warm winters, which disrupted the blossom season of litchi and longan from March through May, Feng said.
No bee deaths were found to result from imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin, while certain residues of other insecticides, such as Fipronil tau-Fluvalinate, Chlorpyrifos and Carbaryl, were found in some dead bees’ bodies, he said.
However, to alleviate the beekeepers’ unease, the bureau would prohibit the use of the three insecticides on litchi and longan farms for two years, he said, adding that farmers of other produce, like rice, can still use the chemicals.
A Changhua-based environmentalist on Thursday said that 29 swallows found dead by a roadside in Changhua County last month had been found to have consumed the highly toxic insecticide Carbofuran.
A concentration of 300 parts per million (ppm) was detected in the birds’ bodies, Changhua County Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Shih Yueh-ying (施月英) cited an unpublished report from the Changhua County’s Animal Disease Control Center as saying.
A 300ppm residue was much higher than was possible in insects or on plants, which usually contained 5ppm to 10ppm, Feng said.
“As swallows often build nests below people’s roofs, some homeowners, disturbed by the swallows, might have poisoned the birds by putting Carbofuran directly in their nests,” Feng said, adding that the center is still collecting evidence for further analysis.
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