Saving bees versus profits, politics and power

The importance of saving the continuously diminishing honeybee populations may seem like a no-brainer. However, that vital issue has become a battle of saving bees versus profits, politics and power.

And even science.

The mysterious bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) began more than a decade ago.

At first, science working with government were regarded as the ‘saviors’ of bees. But something funny happened on the way to the bank.

Pesticides, fungicides, viruses, pathogens, the Varroa destructor, a nasty, parasitic mite, agricultural chemicals whose use increases yearly, along with the declining of bee populations.

The primary controversy involves neonicotinoid (neonic for short) pesticides, which yield billions in revenue for chemical-makers such as Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto (Roundup, the most used pesticide in the world).

As bees decrease, regulatory labs also decrease from defunding, and pesticides increase yearly. We apply increasingly toxic concoctions in great amounts, and bugs, weeds and diseases evolve and rally, according to Steve Volk in Discovery magazine.

Most scientific labs are now funded by the corporations that create the pesticides.

Bee health and loss is getting worse, says beekeeper Darren Cox, in an interview with Volk. “The factor of agricultural chemicals lies at the nexus of science, finance and politics.”

Basically, it’s saving bees versus profits, politics and power.

Forty-four percent of U.S. bee colonies were lost in 2015-2016. Colony losses among commercial beekeepers reach 30, 40 and even 50 percent annually, a pace that threatens the beekeeping and agricultural industries—and everyone who eats!

The Bee Informed Partnership, a research consortium based at the University of Maryland, tracks mortality rates to get a more accurate sense of colony turnover year to year.

Then-USDA scientist Jeffrey Pettis drew comb and wax samples from beehives in 22 U.S. states, finding an average of six different pesticides in each, and as many as 39 in some.

Pettis said the number of chemicals in our society is so vast that assessing all their possible interactions is virtually impossible.

Entomologist Pettis, who has since retired from the USDA, was demoted two months after testifying before Congress about neonicotinoids and their effect on bee health.

That is a common fate of honest scientists in the USDA, FDA, CDC.

But dying bees is not the whole story. Many live, but are dysfunctional. Neonicotinoids have been demonstrated to impair the honeybee’s foraging capabilities, memory and navigation systems and immune systems, undermining their ability to survive and aid their hive.

Researchers in the UK, Japan, France and Italy concluded that exposure to Neonicotinoids (Roundup) renders bees more susceptible to numerous diseases and hastens the mortality rate from illnesses that honeybees once shrugged off.

Beekeepers are going broke and most of us who depend on wild bees for our home fruit trees and vegetable gardens have noticed a marked decline in our busy buzzing visitors.

Maybe one day the sleepy public in the U. S. and other countries will wake up and realize that most of the fruits, vegetables and nuts they take for granted are dependent on the honeybee and put an end to the absurd and deadly battle of saving bees versus profits, politics and power.

Until then, just sleep on while the honeybees suffer and die.

Source: Discovery magazine, March 2017