Chennai, October 27, 2011: A 10-member Expert Panel, constituted in August 2010 by the Government of India's Ministry of Environment and Forests, to go into the issue of the effect of radiations from communication towers on wildlife, including birds and bees in the country, has just brought out a Report1 of their study and findings. The Report elicited media news saying that cell towers are killing sparrows and honey bees (see, for example, this news).
The Panel, while citing the lack of appropriate scientific studies on the issue in India, hints at the possible negative impact of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from transmission towers on various wildlife species. It says: "The population of many species such as honey bees, which is one of the most important pollinator and important factor for agricultural productivity, has seen a drastic population drop. Unfortunately we do not have much data about the effects of EMR available for most of our free-living floral and faunal species in India. Therefore, there is an urgent need to do further research in this area before it would be too late."
For this observation, the Expert Panel considered the two papers on studies in India available in literature and seems to have relied mainly on the literature published elsewhere in the world. As indicated in the news items in this site dated September 5, 2009, May 29, 2010 and May 23, 2011, there are as yet no confirmed reports of large-scale honey bee colony losses in India comparable to the colony collapse disorder found in America or Europe.
The two Indian papers on the effect of mobile phone tower radiation on honey bees, referred to in the Report relate to preliminary observations made on a few bee colonies in Kerala2 and Punjab3. Both the studies did not consider the effect of EMR on bee colonies under natural conditions.
A majority of the studies on this aspect in the world shows that it is rather too early, if not presumptuous, to implicate EMR in colony collapse disorder in the honey bee colonies.
- Anonymous 2011. Report on possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife including birds and bees.
- Sainudeen Saheb, S. 2011. Impact of mobile phones on the density of honey bees. Munis Entomology & Zoology 6(1): 396-399.
- Sharma, V.P. and Kumar, N.K. 2010. Changes in honeybee behaviour and biology under the influence of cellphone radiations. Current Science 98 (10): 1376-1378.