Ag Research Update: Bees and Biofuels

>> The buzz is bees are dying and scientists don’t know why. Pennsylvania State University is the lead institution conducting research on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the massive die-off affecting an entire beehive or bee colony.

Theories abound as to why the bee die-offs are occurring. Researchers with Penn State’s Working Group are looking at stress caused by moving bees around, malnutrition from the practice of feeding bees high fructose corn syrup, unknown pathogens, mites, pesticides, disease, or genetically modified crops as potential contributors.

Bees do die off, and the number of U.S. honey bee colonies has been in decline. However, the apparent rapid rate of die off beginning late in 2006 has raised the level of concern. Commercial bee colonies are essential pollinators for 90 fruit and vegetable crops including soybeans.

The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing on Colony Collapse Disorder on March 29, 2007. Representative Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., chairs the subcommittee. Congress is considering targeting more funding to this research. For more information go to and search for Colony Collapse Disorder.

>> A recent article by the University of Minnesota’s C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer notes that the ethanol rage is increasing the price of food staples around the world, and calls on the U.S. to: 1) pursue a comprehensive energy conservation program instead of mandates and subsidies for biofuels, 2) promote solar and wind power, and 3) invest in research on fuels derived from cellulose. The article is available at

Contact: Kim Leval, or 541.687.1490 for more information.

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