As many of you will know, populations of honeybees have, in recent years, been tragically and “mysteriously” disappearing around the world.
I say “mysteriously” with some sarcasm, because pesticides are already known to be one of the factors. Yet, instead of removing these known toxins from the market, ever-more harmful ones are, shamefully, being approved!
Not only do the bees produce our honey, they are our most important pollinators, responsible for the production of up to one-third of the human food supply!
Despite numerous and now frantic studies into the phenomenon, which has been dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder,” nothing is being done and the bees continue to disappear.
So I’m not really optimistic for the future of these wondrous creatures.
Why? Because we have now let harmful chemicals insinuate themselves so completely into our lives, we can no longer separate reality from industry or government hype.
Beekeepers are themselves concerned about chemicals now being sprayed on crops like sunflowers, where some of their bees pollinate.
In a recent letter-to-the-editor, a government entomologist talks about “managing” insects on sunflower crops (with chemicals, of course).
It’s a single word. But it speaks volumes about how completely we have now divorced ourselves from the notion of working with nature to produce our food.
We are so bogged down in the nuances of the debate; which products will kill bees “on contact” (as opposed to which ones will kill them later on, I guess), and how “target” and “non-target” insects are affected, we can no longer see the forest for the trees.
Of course these chemicals have all been sorted into these neat little compartments, each with its own label.
But, does anyone seriously believe there will be no harmful synergistic effects when so many chemical soups are applied with such abandon to our food crops yearly?
Are we supposed to accept that new generations of ever-more-potent poisons, descendants of ones used in wartime to kill people and now specifically designed to kill insects, will somehow stop doing their job, say “excuse me,” politely and magically step around beneficial insects and kill only the bad ones?
Give me a break!
Yet huge chemical-makers brag on their websites, without fear of contradiction, that they work “with nature,” toward “sustainable” agriculture and an end to world hunger!
All the while, their products are threatening food production, not promoting it!
Their version of “sustainability” is to pour ever-larger amounts of their over-priced products onto our crops, just so our producers can “stay even” with last year!
Figures from credible sources show that, despite the chemical onslaught that has transformed agriculture since the 1930’s, crops lost to pests of all kinds, have actually increased as a percentage of production!
Might there actually come a day when corporate chemical-makers, government bureaucrats, politicians and regulators, will actually face penalties if they know that certain products are harmful to human health or the environment, yet do nothing? Probably not.
But wouldn’t that jam up our courts!
If you think that sounds harsh, consider that one out of every three spoons-full of food we eat, comes courtesy of honeybees!
Meanwhile, North American “regulators”, armed with the certain knowledge that products already out there are “very highly toxic” to bees, continue, not only to allow their continued use, but to approve new ones that are probably even worse!
So, on whose behalf are these “regulators” acting? Yours? Mine? Or the chemical companies and their fat bottom lines?
You be the judge.
Meanwhile, scientists and researchers continue to chase their tails, frantically trying to explain every last reason behind “Colony Collapse Disorder,” a phenomenon that has been conveniently invented to impress people about how deep a mystery it is to solve.
There probably are factors other than pesticides involved, granted. But why should that stop them from acting on one they already know about?
And apparently bee deaths that do not fit the profile of Colony Collapse Disorder, (such as most of the ones in Canada) they don’t count!
You can bet the chemical companies are wringing their hands in glee, knowing that, as they rack up record sales, multiple scientific studies go madly off in all directions, concluding nothing.
In a couple of radio interviews I have heard, academics put a devilishly clever “spin” on the topic. Bending over backwards not to offend the chemical companies, they conceded that “not much more” can be done using pesticides, to protect the bees (from things like mites, etc)! Heaven forbid they should even hint that they are actually a factor!
(One has to wonder, just how “beholden” are their respective universities to the chemical companies because of grants they may get from them? Journalists don’t ask those kinds of questions, any more.)
If I were some crude American politician, I might be moved to shout, “It’s the pesticides, stupid!” (But I’m not, so I won’t.)
Please also read “Lament for the Honeybee.” Just click on the “Honeybees” category in the column to the right.
Watch a fascinating video of how honeybees “dance” to tell others where to find food!
Just click on the headline to this story.
FOOTNOTE: Over the past several months, I have twice politely asked the federal Minister of Health, who is responsible for the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, to look into this. She has not responded.