24 September 2013

Cause of Disappearing Honeybees

Whether the agriculture industry is actually pushing this or not remains to be seen, but I do know many farmers are and actively doing this. This being the spraying of insecticides on crops to kill insects. It is unfortunate that honeybees and other pollinators (a term that includes native bees, honeybees, birds, bats, and other species of beneficial insects) are being affected by the insecticides. I would be more inclined to believe that the agricultural chemical business in cooperation with some of the large agricultural industries is behind this killing of the honeybees.

Yes, and this would include the corn industry as they are ready to increase their profits in high-fructose corn syrup to take the place of honey.

Since 2006, up to 40% of the bee colonies in the US have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which honeybees die, disoriented, far from their hives. The honeybee pollinates a third of all the food we eat and contributes an estimated $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the US economy alone. Fresh fruits and vegetables, in particular, would simply not exist without honeybees.

At least 143 million of the 442 million acres—that is, nearly one-third—of US cropland is planted with crops treated with these neuroactive insecticides, which are related to nicotine and are highly toxic to bees. In the US, 100% of corn and canola is treated with neonicotinoids, as well as 65% of soybeans and almost all cotton, wheat, and smaller acreage crops. The pesticide expresses itself through the plants’ pollen and nectar—the honeybee’s favorite sources of food.

A recent Time magazine article notes a number of potential reasons for CCD, including deadly bacteria and viruses—but nearly all researchers agree that the main culprits are general chemical exposure and pesticides (neonicotinoids in particular). A study of honeybee pollen found nine different pesticides and fungicides in it on average.”

The agriculture industry doesn’t want their profitable pesticides tampered with: there are over 1,200 pesticides currently in use in the US, and many are made by the same companies that engineer the crop seeds. So instead, Big Farma has begun creating CAFO-like conditions for bees! It’s already happening on a small scale; many argue that it may be the only alternative if we don’t reign in the pesticides. “Bees may end up managed like cattle, pigs and chicken, where we put them in confinement and bring the food to them,” said one beekeeper and independent researcher quoted in the Time article. “You…do feedlot beekeeping.””

Monsanto, surprise, is working on other GMO “fixes” for CCD as well: they’re developing RNA-interference technology that will kill one of the viruses thought to be killing the bees, the Varroa mite, by interfering with the way the bees’ genes are expressed.

Because I have a very soft spot for bees and have kept bees as I explained in my blog here, I would appreciate those living in the US to support a new bill, HR 2692, “The Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013,” that has been introduced in the House by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). It would suspend the use of neonicotinoids until the EPA can prove that the insecticide “will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on pollinators.” This proof of safety would need to be in the form of published scientific research together with a completed field study. Please contact your representative and urge his or her support of HR 2692.

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