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Glyphosate weedkiller impairs learning and memory in bumblebees

Bumblebees exposed to glyphosate performed worse in tests that required them to remember which colours were linked to rewards

Environment 21 October 2022

Buff tailed bumblebee on a flower

A buff-tailed bumblebee

Ed Brown Wildlife/Alamy

Bumblebees exposed to the world’s most popular type of weedkiller found it harder to learn and remember colours linked to rewards – which could undermine their ability to find food for the colony.

Marjo Helander at the University of Turku in Finland and her colleagues investigated how glyphosate, in this case in the herbicide Roundup Gold, affected buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) in colour-based learning and memory tests.

Over five rounds, bees chose between different-coloured artificial flowers, five containing a sugar reward and five a bad-tasting quinine solution.

Unexposed …