Bees are dying while biotechnology corporations get richer

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Independent researchers link pesticides to the death of billions of bees around the world while corporations like Bayer and Monsanto – producers of insecticides – exercise a disturbing degree of control over the evaluation of toxicity in their products.

Bee at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens by Paul Stein

Bee at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens by Paul Stein

What is happening?

Albert Einstein famously once said, “If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years”. Indeed, bees pollinate about 80% of all plant species and at least one third of food crops. Food stuffs including apples, pears, tangerines, peaches, soybeans, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and avocados all depend on pollination from bees.

Already in Sichuan, China, pear trees have had to be pollinated by hand after bees were wiped out by habitat loss linked to unsustainable agricultural practices.

In countries dependent on bee pollination, it is estimated that between 30% and 90% of honeybee colonies have disappeared since 2006. The same scenario occurs each time: the bees leave the nest and simply never come back.

Why is it happening?

Scientists do not know the exact cause of this epidemic; some say it could be parasites – particularly the varroa mite as well as viruses or funguses. However, many scientists believe the most likely reason for declining bee populations is the unchecked use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. The crisis is now officially known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CDD), whereby bee health is compromised, ultimately making them more susceptible to diseases.

According to a pair of new independent studies recently published in the Journal of Science, new evidence has directly linked pesticides with the decline of bee populations. Scientists believe that a type of insecticide known as Neonicotinoid – which was introduced in the 1990s by Bayer and is one of the most widely used crop pesticides in the world – is affecting the central nervous systems of bees. With annual sales of $1.941 billion, the neonicotinoids have became one of the fasted growing and prosperous products currently on the market. This pesticide appears to kill bees’ homing instincts, limits their ability to gather food and critically, find their way back to the hive.

Following responses from France and Germany, in 2009 the Italian Agriculture Ministry suspended the use of pesticides classed as nicotine-based neonicotinoids. This ban has led to the restoration of bee populations in Italy. “Bee hives have not suffered depopulation and mortality coinciding with maize sowing this year. Beekeepers from Northern Italy and all over the country are unanimous in recognizing the suspension of neonicotinoid- and fipronil-coated maize seeds,” Moreno Greatti from the University of Udine reported to the The European Research Center.

Trailer for “Nicotine Bees” documentary explaining cause for Colony Collapse Disorder.

Further research has indicated that CDD in bees is triggered not only by pesticides but also by GMO high-fructose corn syrup produced by Monsanto. Click here to read the full report.

Who is responsible?

In 2003, pharmaceuticals manufacturer Bayer developed a new pesticide called Clothianidin which falls under the family of the Neonicotinoid.  A leaked document from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was obtained recently by Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, and publicised by the Pesticide Action Network. The document details how Bayer performed inadequate testing on the pesticide and why the EPA accepted the results. This resulted in the pesticide being released for use despite proof that it would not harm bee populations and in fact, in contradiction with its own researcher’s results. See EPA leaked document.

In April 2012, Poland banned Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. In addition to being linked to a plethora of health problems, Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki said that the pollen originating from this GM strain may actually be devastating already dwindling bee populations. 

Notably, Monsanto – one of the world largest producers of genetically modified food – quietly purchased a research company called Beelogics in September 2011, whose mission it was combat the extinction of bees. Monsanto has insisted it will use Beeologic’s research to improve the bees’ situation. However, given that it was named the ‘Worst Company 2011’ by the Natural Society, it is difficult to believe that Monsanto will put the bees before his products.

Monsanto ‘quietly’ acquired Beelogics because there is no trace of this information in the mainstream media. If you find any newspapers or TV channels that talk about Monsanto buying Beelogics please let me know.

The world according to Monsanto


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