As bee collapse threatens global food supply, report says chemical industry employing Big Tobacco-style PR blitz to deflect blame
— Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams staff writer
Worldwide bee deaths have now entered a crisis state threatening the global food supply and, according to a new report out Monday by Friends of the Earth, the human-made epidemic has been worsened by an industry-funded disinformation campaign.
The report, Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits (pdf), details how the leading pesticide corporations—Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto—are taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco companies to stall any potential legislation from protecting bee colonies.
According to report author and noted food industry critic Michele Simon, these corporations are engaging in a full-throttled public relations blitz, which includes funding industry-friendly research, targeting children, attacking regulators, blaming farmers and “pretending to care” by creating their own greenwashed “save the bees” campaigns.
These efforts are meant to distract policy makers and the general population from identifying the cause of bee decline, which—according to “a strong and growing body of evidence”—is linked to a widely-used class of neurotoxic pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics.
Following a 2013 review by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission implemented a continent-wide two-year suspension of the three most-used neonics— imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
U.S. efforts to enact similar legislation have floundered due to “sophisticated, multi-pronged public relation campaigns” by the leading chemical companies, intent on “manufactur[ing] doubt about their products’ contribution to the bee crisis,” the report charges.
Neonics are used on more than 140 crop seeds and virtually all corn and a large percentage of soy, wheat and canola seeds planted in the U.S. are pretreated with neonics. According to the report, the pesticide makers would have much to lose if neonics were universally banned. In 2009, the neonicotinoid global market was worth roughly $2.6 billion.
“Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto make billions from bee-killing pesticide products while masquerading as champions of bee health,” said Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth. Asking if industry profits are “more important than our food supply,” Archer says that Congress must act now to ban these pesticides that threaten our food security.
“Bees are essential to one out of three bites of the food we eat, and two thirds of global food crops, from almonds to strawberries,” the report states. “While industry attempts at spin, distraction, and the manufacture of doubt may be effective political tools in the U.S. for causing delay and inaction, they will only cause more harm in the long run.”
On December 2, 2013, the European Union officially began its two-year moratorium on three of the worst neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics” for short) in order to protect bees and other pollinators. Even though the EU has taken the much needed step of curbing the use of neonics, U.S. regulatory agencies have yet to step up to the plate and take the actions needed to protect pollinators.
Thankfully, Representatives John Conyers (D, MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR) have introduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692), calling for the suspension of neonics until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators.
Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, and exposure to neonics has become a key culprit in bee population losses. In June, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in a parking lot in Oregon by these very chemicals. Soon after, the state of Oregon moved forward and suspended the use of two neonics linked to these massive bee losses.
We need to take swift action by suspending the use of these chemicals across the U.S. until proven safe to our critical pollinators. The Saving America’s Pollinators Act seeks to do precisely that.
Read H.R. 2692 here
Check out save-bees.org to take more action!
The USDA is poised to approve the first genetically modified apple.
If approved, these genetically engineered apples could end up everywhere from school lunches to grocery stores, posing risks to our health, our environment and apple farmers across the United States.
This new GMO Arctic Apple® was engineered for purely cosmetic reasons — it lacks the enzymes that cause apples to brown when cut. However, browning in apples can be prevented naturally by applying lemon juice or another source of vitamin C, making this new risky genetically engineered apple unnecessary.
Thanks to the help of thousands of people like you, McDonald’s and Gerber recently confirmed to Friends of the Earth that they have no plans to sell the GMO Arctic Apple® — wisely siding with consumers and apple growers that are rejecting this risky, unnecessary, unlabeled apple.
The GMO Arctic Apple® is a problem masquerading as a solution. Without natural browning, apples may look fresh when they are actually decaying. Scientists believe apples’ natural browning enzyme may help to fight diseases and pests, meaning that farmers may have to increase their pesticide use on these new GMO apples. Apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and even ADHD.
Like other GMOs, it won’t be labeled and won’t have undergone independent safety testing — regulators will rely on the company’s sole assessment that the apple is safe for human consumption.
Worse yet, this GMO apple was genetically engineered via a new, virtually untested experimental technique called RNA interference, which many scientists are concerned may have negative, unintended impacts on human health and the environment.
Midwest farmers douse their fields in chemicals as insects grow resistant to Bt Corn
– Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Pesticides Poured on Illinois Cornfield (Photo: Fig and Sage)
Pesticide use is skyrocketing across the Midwestern U.S. corn belt, as biotech companies like Syngenta and AMVAC Chemical watch their pesticide sales spike 50 to 100 percent over the past two years, NPR reported Tuesday.
The culprit? Bt corn—a type of genetically engineered corn with insecticide built into its genes.
Variations of this corn strain—peddled across the world by large multinationals including Monstanto and Syngenta—are giving rise to Bt resistant insects and worms, studies show.
NPR reports that resistant ‘pests’ are decimating entire cornfields across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Yet, now that the targeted insect killings are not working, big agribusiness is simply throwing pesticides at the problem instead of moving away from GMOs.
This is despite warnings last year from the Environmental Protection Agency that unrestrained use of Bt corn will off-set the balance of the ecosystem.
Monsanto denies the severity of the damage wrought by Bt corn, assuring customers that many farmers ‘have great success.’
Environmental groups have long warned that Bt corn is a danger to non-‘pest’ insects. In a 2004 briefing, Greenpeace showed that the effects of non-targeted insect killings ripple throughout the ecosystem.
Critics charge that the modified corn—which is spread by big agribusiness, pushed to small farmers, and crossbred with non GMO strains—undermines food diversity and security and devastates small-scale, sustainable farmers and peasants.
The revelation comes after scientists recently warned that pollution runoff from Midwestern farms, carried to the ocean by the Mississippi, is slated to create the largest ocean dead zone recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, choking marine life that crosses its path.
(Photo: Digital Journal)
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Pesticide banned following 50,000 bee deaths – KPTV-FOX12
Bee Deaths – Huffington Post