Posted by Lisa on January 13, 2011
For the past several years scientists have been desperately searching for an answer to the mysterious collapse of bee populations worldwide. Known as “Colony Collapse Disorder”, massive bee die-offs around the globe have alarmed scientists as commercial beekeepers have suddenly found empty hives in record numbers, with as much as 30% of the commercial honey bee population in the U.S. nearly wiped out since 2006.1
As a vital link in our food chain, bees are responsible for pollinating one out of every three of the foods that we eat, their continued loss could be a catastrophic loss.
While colony collapse is likely caused by a combination of factors, many scientists believe that sublethal pesticide exposures are a critical factor – and one class of pesticides in particular is a suspected culprit: neonicotinoids.2
Click here to sign a letter telling EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson it’s time to stop corporate science from killing bees and polluting our environment. Confront the corporate abuse of our democracy and take a stand with beekeepers.
Last month, leaked documents from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that one commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide has been on the market for years without safety testing.
According to the damning documents, the agency ignored warnings from its own scientists during the approval process for Bayer CropScience’s neonicotinoid pesticide, clothianidin (product name “Poncho”), relying on shoddy corporate science provided by Bayer instead.3
Since its conditional approval by the EPA in 2003, Bayer’s clothiniadin has been widely adopted as a seed treatment for corn - the largest crop in the U.S. - and a crop whose pollen bees rely upon.4
Bayer’s pesticide has been banned in 4 European countries beginning in 2008 due to its high toxicity to bees and potential link to mass bee die-offs.5 Rather than heed their own scientists or the precautions taken in Europe, EPA bureaucrats approved the toxic pesticide based on a fatally flawed study provided by Bayer.
Beekeepers across the U.S. are furious to learn that one of the potential links behind the loss of their livelihood, and our food supply, boils down to a government agency looking out for corporate profits over sound science or public well being.
In addition to corn, Bayer’s clothiniadin is also used on soy, wheat, canola, sugarbeets and sunflower seeds, among the most widely planted crops in the U.S., and it is a “systemic” pesticide. This means that it’s absorbed into the plant material and “expressed” through pollen and nectar - the main source of food for bees.
The leaked EPA memo, from the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention dated November 2nd of last year, reveals that the original study submitted by Bayer CropScience to the EPA was so deeply flawed that it failed to meet agency guidelines. The study was conducted on the wrong crop, canola, which is not as widely planted in the U.S. as corn. In addition, the study took place on test plots of only 2 acres each and since bees forage at least 2 miles from the hive and beekeepers and EPA scientists believe it’s unlikely they ingested much of the actual treated crop, thus invalidating the study and failing to prove whether or not Bayer’s clothianidin is lethal to bees.6
Despite finding the original study invalid for the most recent approval process of clothianidin, for use on cotton and mustard seeds, the EPA has refused to pull Bayer’s toxic pesticide, which the agency granted full registration, or permanent approval, on April 22 of 2010.
Farmers and beekeepers across the country are up in arms over the serious harm that has come to their livelihoods as a result of the EPA’s failure to put sound science over corporate profits.
It’s time for the EPA to pull Bayer’s bee-keeping pesticide that has already been banned in Germany, Italy, France and Slovenia. We need to put unprecedented public pressure on this government agency to make sure they use their emergency powers to pull this toxic chemical from our fields.
We need your help to keep the pressure on! Please donate to Food Democracy Now today – whether it’s $10, $25 or $50 we make sure your donation makes a big difference.
We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.
Thank you for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
Image source: Vanishing of the Bees, an important documentary about Colony Collapse Disorder.
1. “Honey Bee Colony Losses In U.S. Almost 30 Percent From All Causes From September 2008 To April 2009”, Science Daily, May 29, 2009.
2. “Colony Collapse: Are Potent Pesticides Killing Honeybees?”, Mother Earth News, October 2009.
3. “Beekeepers call for immediate ban on CCD-linked pesticide,” Pesticide Action Network North America, December 9, 2010.
4. “Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags”, Grist, December 10, 2010.
5. “Beekeeper Who Leaked EPA Documents: ‘I Don't Think We Can Survive This Winter’”, Fast Company, December 12, 2010.
6. “Beekeepers call for immediate ban on CCD-linked pesticide,” Pesticide Action Network North America, December 9, 2010.