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The Threat To Bees Is Real And The Causes Are Known

Addressing Neonicotinoids Difficult Against Big Money

by Daniel Johnson

Alice Evonic With Distinguished Co-Workers
Alice Evonic With Distinguished Co-Workers

While neonicotinoids are not the only thing threatening pollinators including honey bees, they have been clearly shown to be one of the leading causes of current bee die offs being observed worldwide. 

For over a decade, many studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides were a major cause of colony collapse disorder in bees. But, in the same manner that oil and coal companies have done in response to climate change research, companies like Beyer and Monsanto who manufucture neonicotinoid pesticides have funded scientists to churn out 'counter-science' to create the false impression that the research wasn't clear, giving politicians the excuse they needed to continue following the advice of the companies who are closely tied at the executive level with major political parties and who finance the largest 'corporate super-pacs.' 

Most recently, researchers at the University Of Stirling in the UK have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides reduce bee colony growth and queen production.
 
The abstract for the study says "Growing evidence for declines in bee populations has caused great concern because of the valuable ecosystem services they provide. Neonicotinoid insecticides have been implicated in these declines because they occur at trace levels in the nectar and pollen of crop plants. We exposed colonies of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris in the laboratory to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, then allowed them to develop naturally under field conditions.
 
Treated colonies had a significantly reduced growth rate and suffered an 85% reduction in production of new queens compared with control colonies.
Given the scale of use of neonicotinoids, we suggest that they may be having a considerable negative impact on wild bumble bee populations across the developed world."
 
The International Union For Conservation Of Nature's Task Force On Systemic Pesticides listed as one of the main challenges to addressing the problem of neonic pesticides and curbing their use is the fact that "Strong industry lobby extends over scientific arena to keep neonics on market."
  Do they ever. 
 
In recognition of the upcoming 'Global Swarm To Save The Bees',  a multi-city event being organized for August 16th to promote awareness of the problem, we'll discuss the issue with Alberta Bee-Keeper Alice Evonic, who recently attended the Integrated Pest Management Conference 2014 in Edmonton,  where a Monsanto representative discussed Monsanto's solution to a problem they have long denied existed and continually deny they've caused while the timelines of their research clearly show that they predicted this problem, and were looking for solutions to it, long before they would even acknowledge the problem existed. 
 
What has been the impact of neonicid pesticides on pollinators in general?
Its hard to tell, there was no research that could really bite the bullet of damage until a lady from Quebec did some research on the pesticide getting into the puddles they drink from. The numbers attributed could bee hard to say, but with all the different things preying on bees nowadays its hard to not lose 30% of your hives every winter. To compare a century ago the standard was a 15% loss every year. Some beekeepers in Manitoba were averaging out at 60% loss, Saskatchewan is doing the best as usual.
 
Have you seen this impact yourself and how?
Personally, not so much, but I'm rather inexperienced. What I can say is that many scientists around the country are finding it is very dangerous and could bee the cause of colony collapse (along with the Varroa Mite)
 
What is the PMS conference and how were you involved in it?
The pest management meeting I went to was held in Edmonton, I was there b/c I was taking the Fairview beekeeping program and wanted to learn all I could about keeping the bees alive.
 
 
In Saskatchewan, Monsanto's experiments artificial pollination systems is fairly well known, but apparently they don't perform as needed beyond small test farms. Apparently Monsanto has a solution already being worked out, and the PMS 2014 conference was the place to announce it. What is that solution?
Well we had a guy come in from Monsanto and talked about how they bought this genetics company from Israel that failed and are planning to use the data to try to make bees in the lab who have special RNA that can prevent viruses from festering. Basically GMO bees...besides the obvious abomination of the idea one must consider that we may make a super varroa mite or a super nosema cerane through neccissity to survive GMO bees.
 
6. What problems do you see with their proposed solution?
where does the madness stop? Super honey genes? Super sized corbiculas (pollen baskets)? So we got consumerism on life, super pests + diseases, and a lack of respect for one of the oldest species of animals on the planet. Bees are strong, good & amazing on their own, no GMO needed. Pesticides could bee a big contributed to their failing too which makes you think? Is it for money?
 
7. Can you envision a future where food supplies are controlled through a single seed source?
Oh god I hope not, although it seems like it is going that way. We shouldn't bee disrupting mother nature like this....she always wins you know...
 
8. Do you believe that controlling food supplies as a single seed source is Monsanto's intent?
Definitely, they'll make pesticide resistant bees just to have an excuse to keep selling them
 
9. Do you think they will accomplish that goal?
Over my dead swarm.

 

References:

Harvard School Of Public Health, May 9, 2014, Study Strengthens Link Between Neonicotinoids and Collapse Of Honey Bee Colonies:                                   http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/study-strengthens-link-between-neonicotinoids-and-collapse-of-honey-bee-colonies/

Robotic Pollinators: An Autonomous Colony of Arti?cial Bees, Harvard, 2009: 

 
Earth First Journal, Robotic Bees To Pollinate Monsanto Crops, 2008:
 
AAAS Journal Of Science, March 29, 2012, Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production,
 
Journal Of Ecotoxicology, A Meta-analysis of experiments testing the effects of a neonicotinoid insecticide (imidaclorprid) on honey bees, January 2011: 
 
Scientific American, March 31, 2010, Who Funds Contrariness On Climate Change: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/who-funds-contrariness-on/
 
Rally.org, Swarm The Globe page: rally.org/swarmtheglobe
 

International Union For Conservation Of Nature, Task Force On Systemic Pesticides:   https://www.iucn.org/about/union/commissions/cem/cem_work/task_force_systemic_pesticides.cfm


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Regina Sask
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