Want proof that our representatives are likely taking handouts from Syngenta, Bayer, and other Big Ag makers of bee and butterfly killing neonicotinoids? Elected representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, who also happens to be the bee health committee chairman appointed to study pesticide and herbicide connections to colony collapse disorder, is singing the praises of neonicotinoids (neonics).
Davis claims that the bee-killing neonics have nothing to do with the recent findings of numerous other scientific studies showing that the pesticide class is likely killing off pollinators. He says that it is the Varroa mite which is to blame, not Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and other toxic chemical makers.
According to Rodney Davis, chairman of the biotechnology, horticulture and research committee:
“[Neonics] are highly effective and have seen a very rapid adoption rate among producers because of the significant benefits they offer. It is frustrating that efforts to innovate and employ new, proven technologies to enhance our ability to produce food, feed and fiber are constantly under attack.”
This ‘proven’ technology is not proven at all. Like many of the other claims about these biotech chemicals – later proven to be untrue – the claims that neonics are ‘safe’ are ridiculous. Neonicotinoids are absorbed into plant tissue and are often present in pollen and nectar, making them toxic to pollinators as well as human beings who consume them.
Many countries have already had their honey exports affected because of pollen contamination with GM crops and their accompanying pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. So even if neonics weren’t a likely culprit in colony collapse disorder, they are still drastically affecting the ‘food supply’ in a very negative way.
When beekeeping was at its peak in the 1960’s, there were about 4 million managed honeybee colonies in the United States. Now there are about half that today. Beekeepers are having an increasingly difficult time raising bees with millions dying every season.
Need an example? In Ontario, Canada, 37 million bees were recently found dead.
Approximately 94% of GMO corn in the US is treated with neonics, and a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that neonicotinoid class of pesticides and clothianidin adversely affect the immune system of honeybees by promoting replication of a viral pathogen in them.
How Neonics are Destroying the Bees
Neonics are a nicotine-based systemic pesticides, which means these poisons made by Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta are either embedded into the seed or entrenched in the soil. I’m not sure who would think that the absolute rampant use of neonics across all of North America and Canada hasn’t affected bee colonies.
Even at sub-lethal doses, it’s negatively affecting us. For bees, who are much smaller than us, and arguably much more delicate, it is a faster kill.
Neonicotinoids are classified by the EPA as both toxicity class II and class III agents and are labeled with the signal word “Warning” or “Caution.” Perhaps Committee Chair Davis needs a little reminder of this fact.
Table courtesy of University of Florida IFAS Extension
Neonicotinoids are widely used, and as the Center for Food Safety has pointed out, the insecticide seed treatments offer little benefit, do not increase crop yields, and cause widespread environmental and economic damage.
“The authors examined 19 peer-reviewed studies of the relationship between neonicotinoid treatments and actual yields of major U.S. crops. Eight studies found that neonicotinoid treatments did not provide any significant yield benefit, while 11 studies showed inconsistent benefits. The studies corroborate evidence from European countries that were able to maintain crop yields even after neonicotinoid bans. The review cites the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and calls on EPA to suspend seed treatment product registrations.”
So, if we don’t need them, and they could even possibly cause colony collapse disorder, why is the committee chair talking about them as if he is running for the president of Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer all rolled into one?
It is, after all, starting to become the United States of Biotech around here. The White House-created task force meant to give a sincere look at pesticides and their connection to this serious dilemma of bee deaths is an utter farce.
Photo credit: OrganiHealth