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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are cell phones a nuisance? Maybe to the bees.

Colony collapse disorder (in which bees inexplicably leave their hives and never return) seems like it has been pulled from the plotline of a M. Night Shyamalan horror movie.  Given the integral role that bees play in food production, this issue is fairly disturbing. 

But even more disturbing is a recent study from Chandigarh's Punjab University which places the blame squarely on mobile phones.  Read a report in The Daily Telegraph here or watch a bee video on CNN.com here.  

Ved Prakash Sharma and Neelima Kumar, the authors of the report in the journal Current Science, wrote: "Increase in the usage of electronic gadgets has led to electropollution of the environment.  Honeybee behaviour and biology has been affected by electrosmog since these insects have magnetite in their bodies which helps them in navigation."

"There are reports of sudden disappearance of bee populations from honeybee colonies. The reason is still not clear. We have compared the performance of honeybees in cellphone radiation exposed and unexposed colonies.  A significant decline in colony strength and in the egg laying rate of the queen was observed. The behaviour of exposed foragers was negatively influenced by the exposure, there was neither honey nor pollen in the colony at the end of the experiment."

This is just one study, so obviously the science is still out on the issue.  Laying aside my question of whether this information will impact my planned purchase of an iPhone 4, it seems that this raises interesting questions for first year Property students to struggle with:

Would a farmer suffering from a lack of bees have a nuisance claim against a neighbor who has a cell phone tower on their land?  If the flowers in my back yard are looking a little peaked, would I have a nuisance claim against my neighbor who lounges in the back yard all day talking on their cell phone?

Tanya Marsh

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