There are a number of grave ecological crises nagging at the status quo of modern life. Though the corporate media prefers not to cover the enduring impact of events like Fukushima, the Deepwater Horizon or Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, the truth remains that these issues are vastly more important than most of the things we concern ourselves with.
The honey bee is unique in the animal kingdom for its critical importance to both the environment and the economy. Without the bee, the variety and amount of food for human consumption would drop dramatically and the many industries built around bee products would collapse.
The global decline in honey bee populations is attributed to a varying combination of 6 primary factors:
- Viruses and infections
- Attacks by parasites and invasive species
- Genetically modified plants
- Poor nutrition
- Environmental change and habitat fragmentation and loss
- Intensive use of agricultural pesticides
Right now worldwide bee colony collapse is accelerating at alarming rates, and beekeepers are expecting one of the worst years ever.
Developed in the early ’90s by Shell and Bayer, neonicotinoid insecticides are proving to be some of the most harmful to bees, and the European Union has recently proposed a ban on them. Just this week in the United Kingdom, a public campaign to banish these pesticides resulted in a huge win for honeybees as several major home and garden retailers began pulling products containing neonicotinoid pesticides from their shelves.
But here in the United States the silence from both government and consumers is deafening. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who should be thoroughly engaged in addressing colony collapse disorder is poised to approve another harmful pesticide, Sulfoxaflor, already known to be harmful to bees:
Sulfoxaflor is the first molecule to be commercialized from the new sulfoximine class of insecticides developed by Dow AgroSciences. The effects of sulfoxaflor on the exposed aphid nervous system in situ are analogous to those of imidacloprid and nitenpyram, and finally the high-affinity sulfoxaflor binding site is absent in a Myzus persicae strain (clone FRC) possessing a single amino acid point mutation (R81T) in the β-nAChR, a region critical for neonicotinoid interaction. [Agro News]
Why would the EPA allow another bee-killing pesticide onto the market at a time when bees are collapsing at such an alarming rate?
United States beekeepers are extremely disappointed with this turn of events and are hoping that the EPA takes the lead from the EU on putting a plan in place to first stop the collapse of honey bee colonies, then to revive them. Beekeeper Steve Ellis speaking to Civil Eats states:
Europe’s decision should be a wake up call for EPA. The agency has a responsibility to protect bees and the livelihood of beekeepers. Unless the agency takes steps to protect pollinators, they are putting agricultural economies and the food system at risk. [Civil Eats]
This is definitely a step in the wrong direction, but, sadly, there is little control that the individual has in approving or banning which chemicals get openly dumped into our environment. In yet another way, the modern, conscious person who loves the Earth and would like to leave a habitable planet for future generations is left a the mercy of petrified institutions that don’t seem to find urgency in genuine environmental issues.
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Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an avid student of Yoga and life.