Objectivity Often Occurs When Title Editors Differ from Reporters

October 9, 2012

CRE Editor’s Note to  the University Times (Ireland)


We note a difference between the title of the following  article and its text. The title raises a question regarding the impact of pesticides on disappearing bees whereas the text is considerably more conclusive when it states: “New research points to widely used pesticide Clothianidin as a precursor to these mass disappearances…..It represents another triumph for corporate sponsored blinkering of our environmental awareness.”


We call your particlar attention to research conducted by a leading European scientist which  concludes that the Varroa mite spreads a lethal disease which results in bee health decline. “So the only way to control the virus is to control the levels of the mite..”


Bees Bite the Dust: Are Pestcides Responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder?


Conor Michae O’Donovan


Contributing Writer


Upon scanning last week’s headlines, a claim that scientists have uncovered a possible cause for Colony Collapse Disorder stood out. A disturbing phenomenon, in which apparently healthy colonies of bees disappear almost without a trace, CCD could have a more considerable impact on food markets in the developed world than many would like to admit.


Thus far displaced in the public consciousness by more high profile environmental issues such as climate change, CCD could prove equally devastating.


The impact of mass extinction of any species on the lower rungs of an ecosystem is not exactly breaking news. The indirect, yet profoundly harmful, effects of pesticides on mankind’s resources were first explored in detail by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, Silent Spring. Carson’s book prompted John F Kennedy’s Scientific Advisory Committee to strengthen chemical pesticide regulations.


Fifty years later these regulations apparently remain relatively permissive.


New research points to widely used pesticide Clothianidin as a precursor to these mass disappearances. Part of the Neonicotonoid family (neonics for short), Clothianidin can be found in many domestic gardening products.


After entering plant vascular systems, Clothianidin is in turn exposed to bees through pollen and nectar. Latest studies showed signs of acute poisoning in bees exposed to the pesticide, with sharp degeneration in motor function and homing ability.


More disturbing is that these results are not necessarily new developments either. Clothianidin has long been the subject of negative rumours with regards to CCD it would seem. The pesticide has thus far, along with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer’s other products, remained unregistered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This is largely due to a study partly funded by Bayer, which was later discredited by the EPA’s own scientists. Bayer’s website claims the pesticide to be ‘classified as safe to bees when used for seed treatment’ and, last year, it was sprayed on 142 million acres of crop in the US alone.


In 1923 Austrian thinker Rudolph Steiner made an eerily prophetic prediction that artificial cultivation of the honeybee would extinguish the species within eighty years. Currently millions of bees are bred every year to compensate for the decline in wild pollinators.


Though slightly off target Steiner’s forecast is being fulfilled as this role in industrial farming has had its own considerable impact on the bee population.


Commercial hive bees are often fed fructose rather than their natural honey diet. Furthermore, artificial insemination of queens has lead to a startling lack of biological diversity, meaning that even minor genetic defects are potentially devastating. Due to the already deteriorating situation in the wild the population is being flooded with inferior and potentially infected bees.


When these factors are considered, Clothianidin could be dismissed as a mere detail in a much wider issue of the exploitation of bees on an industrial scale. What one must realise, however, is that the minutest details are the most important in maintaining functioning eco systems.


Additionally, an industrial pesticide gaining precedence over a species responsible for the pollination of 15% of all crops in the US (and, consequently, 3 billions worth of raw material for food production) is symptomatic of a more unsettling issue.


It represents another triumph for corporate sponsored blinkering of our environmental awareness

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