Bayer-Syngenta-Monsanto pursue Tobacco-style Propaganda Blitz

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.

(Image: Friends of the Earth)

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.”

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Tell Congress to Suspend Bee-Toxic Pesticides

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.

Tell your Representative to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act and protect our bees!

Read H.R. 2692 here

Check out save-bees.org to take more action!

Pesticide Use Spikes as GMO Failure Cripples Corn Belt

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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Bayer’s Toxic Clothianidin is Killing the Bees

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Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags! It’s not just the State and Defense departments that are reeling this month from leaked documents. The Environmental Protection Agency now has some explaining to do, too. In place of dodgy dealings with foreign leaders, this case involves the German agrichemical giant Bayer; a pesticide with an unpronounceable name, clothianidin; and an insect species crucial to food production (as well as a food producer itself), the honeybee.

There’s a great article on “Grist” that walks you through the significance of using genetically modified seeds to grow genetically hostile crops that are potentially at the root of colony collapse disorder.  Here’s an excerpt:

Suppliers sell seeds pre-treated with it. Like other members of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, clothianidin gets “taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar,” according to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), which leaked the document along with Beyond Pesticides. That effect makes it highly toxic to a crop’s pests — and also harmful to pollen-hoarding honeybees, which have experienced mysterious annual massive die-offs (known as “colony collapse disorder”) here in the United States at least since 2006. The colony-collapse phenomenon is complex and still not completely understood. While there appears to be no single cause for the annual die-offs, mounting evidence points to pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoids (derived from nicotine), as a key factor.”

“The document [PDF], leaked to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, reveals that EPA scientists have essentially rejected the findings of a study conducted on behalf of Bayer that the agency had used to justify the registration of clothianidin … asked l if the scientists’ opinion would inspire the agency to remove clothianidin from the market … [a spokesman] who asked not to be named but who communicated on the record on behalf of the agency, replied that clothianidin would retain its registration and be available for use in the spring.”

 

Think about that a minute and let it sink in.  What are we going to do when the bees are no more, they no longer pollinate our crops, and food supplies begin to dwindle?  Learn more and read Tom Philpott’s full article at Grist: http://grist.org/article/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/