Monsanto’s Weedkiller Found to Kill Bees, Threatening Global Food Supply


Monsanto likes to promote the idea that GMOs can solve world hunger. At first, many wanted to believe that they could indeed provide an answer to this devastating problem, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re actually having the opposite effect. In fact, Monsanto’s popular weed killer glyphosate, which is regularly used on genetically modified crops, is putting honeybees in danger, and a newly released study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that the biotech firm is contributing to the collapse of our global food supply rather than saving it.

Past studies have already demonstrated how pesticides like neonicotinoids harm bees. Monsanto’s glyphosate, which only targets enzymes in bacteria and plants, must be a safer choice for bees, right? Not so fast.

In a new paper, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin outline how glyphosate harms the microbiota needed by honeybees for growing and resisting pathogens. Not only is glyphosate playing a big role in the decline of bees across the planet, but it’s also destroying their habitats.

In the study, the researchers painted colored dots on the backs of hundreds of adult worker bees and exposed them to glyphosate levels widely seen in crop fields, roadsides, and yards. After recapturing the bees three days later, they found that the herbicide had dramatically reduced their healthy gut microbiota.

Half of the eight dominant healthy bacteria species found in bees were diminished, with the critical microbe involved in digestion and pathogen defense, Snodgrassella alvi, being hit the hardest.

In addition to having far lower levels of beneficial bacteria in their guts, these bees also died more often when subsequently exposed to a common type of bacteria and other infectious pathogens. For example, while half of healthy bees managed to survive the introduction of the Serratia marcescens bacteria, only one tenth of those who had been exposed to glyphosate were able to survive the bacteria.

Although this study was focused on honeybees, the researchers say that bumblebees have very similar microbiomes, so it’s safe to assume that they would be affected by glyphosate in much the same way.

Learn more about how Glyphosate’s popularity soars as bees and humans die: