Researchers develop computer model to predict whether a pesticide will harm bees

Researchers at Oregon State University have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to help protect bees from pesticides.

Cory Simon and Xiaoli Fern led the project, which involved training a machine learning model to predict whether proposed new herbicides, fungicides or insecticides would be toxic to honeybees based on the compound’s molecular structure.

The findings of the U.S. National Science Foundation-supported study, published in The Journal of Chemical Physics, are important because many fruit, nut, vegetable and seed crops rely on bee pollination. Without bees to transfer the pollen needed for reproduction, almost 100 commercial crops in the United States would vanish. Bees’ annual global economic impact is estimated to exceed $100 billion.

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