This may not be the usual Gulag fare, but without bees there will be no food and bees have been mysteriously dying in record numbers for several years. Could it be that our own government agency is the cause?
An informative article from queenbeejan will give you an idea of how many bees it takes to pollinate the seeds that grow your food.
Reported in Grist:
Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags
It’s not just the State and Defense departments that are reeling this month from leaked documents. The Environmental Protection Agency now has some explaining to do, too. In place of dodgy dealings with foreign leaders, this case involves the German agrichemical giant Bayer; a pesticide with an unpronounceable name, clothianidin; and an insect species crucial to food production (as well as a food producer itself), the honeybee. And in lieu of a memo leaked to a globetrotting Australian, this one features a document delivered to a long-time Colorado beekeeper.
All of that, plus my favorite crop to fixate on: industrial corn, which blankets 88 million acres of farmland nationwide and produces a bounty of protein-rich pollen on which honeybees love to feast.
It’s The Agency Who Kicked the Beehive, as written by Jonathan Franzen!
An internal EPA memo released Wednesday confirms that the very agency charged with protecting the environment is ignoring the warnings of its own scientists about clothianidin, a pesticide from which Bayer racked up €183 million (about $262 million) in sales in 2009.
From the EPA Memo, emphasis the Gulag’s:
Environmental Risk Assessment for clothianidin. The registrant, Bayer CropScience, is submitting a request for registration of clothianidin to be used as a seed treatment on cotton and mustard (oilseed and condiment). The major risk concerns are with aquatic free-swimming and benthic invertebrates, (live on the bottom of a water body or in the sediment and have no backbone, i.e. crabs, coral, mollusks) terrestrial invertebrates, (spiders and snails and mites) birds, and mammals.
The proposed use on cotton poses an acute and chronic risk to freshwater and estuarine/marine free-swimming invertebrates, but the risk in some cases depends on the incorporation method and the region of the U.S. where the crops are grown. The proposed use on mustard only shows a risk concern on a chronic basis to estuarine/marine free-swimming invertebrates with a low efficiency incorporation method. The proposed uses result in acute risk to freshwater and estuarine/marine benthic invertebrates, but incorporation and region have minimal impact on the risk conclusions. Chronic risk was only present for estuarine/marine benthic invertebrates but was independent of incorporation efficiency and region.
Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects. An incident in Germany already illustrated the toxicity of clothianidin to honeybees when allowed to drift off-site from treated seed during planting.
Back to the Gulag…. Starvation is a pretty effective method of population control. Right, Mikhail?