Categories: Insects

Monsanto Says Genetically Modified Ants Could Replace Honey Bees-Fiction!

Monsanto Says Genetically Modified Ants Could Replace Honey Bees-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Monsanto plans to replace honeybees that are wiped out by pesticides with genetically modified ants.

The Truth:

There aren’t any plans to replace honeybees with genetically modified ants.

That claim surfaced on the fake news website World News Daily Report and quickly went viral on social media sites. Taken out of context, many believed that fake news report was real:

A team of researchers at Monsanto believe they might be on the verge of finding a solution to the mysterious drop in honey-bee populations all over the planet, a threat that endangers the world’s food supply as a whole.

The $3 million dollar grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has led the team of researchers at Monsanto to develop alternative strategies to “survive” an eventual honey bee Colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that has been increasing in the past decade and that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, a situation that could “dramatically impact the world’s food supply”, admit experts.

“Latest studies have found a link between neonicotinoid pesticides that are vastly used in GE corn crops. As GE farming has become an essential part of agriculture in today’s modern world, we had to develop ways to promote both the continuity of GE farming and the survival of the honey bees, a fascinating challenge” admits John Leere, head biochemist of the project.

The team of researchers has developed a genetically modified ant that could “possibly save the world’s food supply.”

But World News Daily Report’s disclaimer states that it assumes “all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”

Many readers didn’t read the disclaimer and sounded off on Monsanto’s fictional plans to produce genetically modified ants:

Protect the ‘natural’ species we have. Stop the use of indiscriminate pesticides. We are killing them off, lets stop and infest the huge amount of money monsanto are chucking about. To make this a world we actually ‘share.’  Stop with the genetics we’ve destroyed enough wildlife already!

But it’s true that bee populations have been dropping due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). That happens when adult worker bees are killed off and a queen bee is left alone in a hive with immature bees, according to USDA’s Agriculture Research Service:

Bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination. Commercial production of many specialty crops like almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables depend on pollination by honeybees. These are the foods that give our diet diversity, flavor, and nutrition.

Experts have scrambled to understand what is causing Colony Collapse Disorder, and pesticides have been investigated as a cause. Researchers in England actually developed genetically modified olive flies in an effort to solve the problem — but they are intended to replace some pesticides, not honeybees:

The idea is to release a large number of GM olive flies that will be used to kill off wild pests that damage the crop. The company responsible for their manufacture and release is Oxitec. They plan to release GM male olive flies that would naturally mate with the females, ultimately resulting in the death of female offspring at the larvae or maggot stage. The thought is that this would lead to a reduction in the olive fly population, which would allow the trees to produce fruit without the need for chemical sprays.

So, in the end, reports that Monsanto is developing genetically modified ants to replace honeybees are false.

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