Bees are an essential part of our food system, as they pollinate many of the flowering plants we grow food on. “Pollination by honey bees is key in cultivating the crops that produce a full one-third of our food,” Credo Action writes. But if you haven’t heard, you should know that bees have been seeing major colony collapse in recent years. Colony Collapse Disease has decimated bees across the U.S. since 2006, killing off approximately 30% of the population each year.
Scientists have had a hard time determining exactly what is causing the massive die-off. While two species of fungus and a virus are considered to definitely be involved, “mounting evidence [also] suggests that one widely used class of pesticides may be a critical factor,” Credo Action reports.
WikiLeaks has revealed that the EPA conditionally approved one such chemical in 2003 without any information on how safe the chemical was, but requiring follow-up research to be conducted on the matter. 7 years later, without any independent study to verify the safety of the chemical (as we know, this is all too common), only one study being conducted (by Bayer, the company that makes the chemical), and despite having knowledge that this study was actually flawed and incorrect, the EPA officially approved the chemical in 2010 without public notice.
Here’s more on the pesticide approved, itself:
One such chemical, called clothianidin, is produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience. It is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants’ pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are honey bees’ favorite sources of food.
…independent studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin are highly toxic to honey bees, providing compelling evidence that they should be immediately taken off the market until the E.P.A. can conduct a full and valid scientific review.
Of course, that the EPA (yes, that stands for Environmental Protection Agency) would put one of the species most vital to our food system at risk is concerning, to say the least. Other countries have decided the risk is clearly too great.
Credo Action writes:
This appears to be a case of the E.P.A. catering to the needs of a large chemical corporation at the expense of a lynchpin species in our ecosystem. France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — have already banned clothianidin.
Our food system should not be threatened due to the near-sighted objectives of a chemical manufacturer and the completely deficient oversight of our governmental agencies tasked with protecting us from such chemicals.
And if you want to do more, here are 5 more way you can help the bees.
Image Credit: Joe Mohr