When I say I work long hours, I mean I work long hours. It’s four in the morning and I have time to write, so I have been writing all night. I write in a sports blog now, too, but just once a week. There are just not enough hours in a day to do everything that one would like to get done. Whatever gets done just has to be enough.
Earlier this week I read that there is a pesticide that is actually attractive to bees. If you haven’t heard, there is a current plague in the honeybee population, it causes about one third of the honeybee hives to go empty each year. It’s called ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ and has been in the news for quite a few years now. The best documentary I have seen on CCD so far is “More Than Honey”.
Researchers have identified the fact that given a choice, honeybees and bumblebees will select crops that contain the class of pesticides containing neonicotinoids. That science word contains the root ‘nicotin’ which is related to nicotine, the one in cigarettes. Apparently the nicotine in this pesticide effects the same area of the bee brain that it does in the human brain.
As of 2013 neonicotinoids have been used In the U.S. on about 95 percent of corn and canola crops, the majority of cotton, sorghum, and sugar beets and about half of all soybeans. They have been used on the vast majority of fruit and vegetables, including apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes, to cereal grains, rice, nuts, and wine grapes.  Imidacloprid is possibly the most widely used insecticide, both within the neonicotinoids and in the worldwide market.
The online magazine Mother Jones has an article about the new research that shows that pollinators get hooked on these plants containing this pesticide class.
Because bees evidently seek out neonics, the authors argue, strategies to limit their exposure by planting pesticide-free nectar and pollen sources along roadsides and whatnot—a key element of President Obama’s “Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”—might not by enough. “Instead,” they write, “long-term changes to policy that include reducing their use may be the only certain means of halting pollinator population decline.”
The EU has a two year moratorium on their uses. The US, of course, exercising the kind of regulatory restraint that we are known for, has decided to continue allowing their use, because their responsibility for the death of thirty percent or more of pollinators per year is not proven.
We must come to expect that our government is not going to regulate anything until all of the evidence is in. Recently they cautioned against an artificial stimulant discovered in 2013 to be adulterating a natural dietary supplement for weight loss. Back then they said there was ‘no evidence that it was a health risk’. Now that Canada has banned it, and now that most of the manufacturers and sellers have voluntarily curbed it’s use, the FDA shows its bravery and cautions us against its consumption.
Much the same thing is going on here. Our FDA is bravely holding out for all of the farmers that use this pesticide. They tell us that it is not known to be harmful to the people eating these crops. This pesticide is contained IN THE PLANT, and cannot be cleaned off. Eating it, though, is not harmful–studies show.
…the European Commission placed a moratorium on most neonic use back in 2013. But here in the United States, the chemicals remain ubiquitous. This spring, US farmers will likely plant 174 million acres of corn and soybeans—a combined swath of land about equal to the state of Texas. The majority of it will likely be with seeds that have been treated with neonics, which are then taken up by the crops and present in plant tissue, nectar, and pollen, ready to poison any creatures that munch (except humans—neonics aren’t considered toxic to us).