A plant virus may be impacting bee populations, according to a new scientific study released in December.

Although bee colony collapse disorder still requires a significant amount of study and research, this new finding from scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Emory University School of Medicine, and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science demonstrated how a plant-pathogenic ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus called tobacco ringspot virus, could infect honeybees. This “host swift” from plants like soybeans to honeybees may be a contributing factor in bee colony collapse disorder.

Although the report, Systemic Spread and Propagation of Plant-Pathogenic Virus in European Honeybees, Apis mellifera, is not definitive, representatives of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), believe it may be a better explanation for bee colony collapse disorder.

“Whenever I hear about mass die offs— whether in bees, dolphins, cattle or trees— I automatically think ‘infectious disease’. It isn’t universally true, but very often turns out to be so,” said the ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom.

“Some scientists and especially anti-pesticide organizations became devotees of the ‘pesticide theory’ of [bee colony collapse disorder] and neonicotinoid pesticides were the prime suspect,” the ACSH reported in a January 22, 2014 article. “These newer chemicals, ‘neonics’ to those familiar with them, have been of increasing utility among farmers worldwide — until their use was severely restricted in the EU on the basis of suspected harm to bees. Our own regulatory and environmental agencies have been more circumspect, awaiting much better evidence of neonics’ involvement in [bee colony collapse disorder].”

The ACSH has also published a video about the USDA lead report.

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