01-09-2010, 04:04 PM
Agrochems Setting the Terms of Honeybee Research?
Quote:Agrochems setting the terms of Honeybee research?
Earlier this year the plight of honey bees hit the headlines. There was concern that numbers were rapidly declining and that the loss of a major pollinator would seriously affect food production. The government responded by allocating funds for research into the problem.
There has been some controversy about why bees have been dying off. Some say it was the run of bad summers, other insist it is the spread of varroa mite while a number of bee keepers suggest that it is unskilled amateurs who do not know what they are doing.
All of the above might be true but in other European countries the finger has been pointed at the increase in the use of certain pesticides. On 9 May 2009 I wrote about research in France and Sweden which showed that bees were sensitive to very low levels of a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The levels are 6 PPB Imidacloprid for and 1ppb for Fibronil. That is parts per billion, an extremely small amount!
You would expect that any research into the dramatic loos of bees would explore every possible cause. Wrong! A recent news item stated quite clearly that possible link to certain pesticides will NOT be included. Why? Because the research is being partly funded by Syngenta who make neonicotinoid pesticides. The “Farmers Guardian” carried the following in an article in the 2 November 2009 edition:
Quote: …Syngenta’s neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamexotham, was recently described as ‘deadly to honey bees’ by an American study.
Has the government gone stark staring mad!? Why is a large amount of public money being used on research that blatantly omits a proven major cause of bee death? Maybe the agrochemical PR lobby been so successful that they have convinced otherwise relatively sane and rational people that their poisons cannot possibly harm bees?
Maybe the Pesticide Action Network has the answer:
Quote: A recent Guardian article sheds light on how chemical companies funding science have a way of dictating research agendas. Warwick University is researching the “complex of interacting factors” – a study commissioned by the government’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) “in partnership with Syngenta,” who is funding 10% of the project. The university says it intends to investigate “parasitic diseases caused by the varroa mite” and the “link between these diseases and the quality of pollen and nectar that the bees are feeding on,” but fails to mention pesticides in its press release. Leading Warwick researcher Dr. David Chandler confirmed that there is “no pesticide component in it at all.” According to the Guardian, the BBSRC doesn’t reveal who its committee members are and how they allocate public money, but in 2003 this information was publicly available on their website and listed executives from Syngenta, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Pfizer, Genetix plc, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Celltech and Unilever.
And the plot thickens. Beekeepers became very vocal this year when it emerged that the BBKA (British Bee Keepers Association) had close links with Bayer and Syngenta.
Quote: Glyn Davies, who was president of the BBKA when they made the secret deal with Syngenta and Bayer around 2000-2001, and who organized the GM propaganda exercise at BBKA HQ in 2002 … 
Some local bee keeping clubs are very angry about allegations that the BBKA has received sponsorship from several agrochemical companies in return for the endorsement of certain products. 
What comes out of this mess is that in the UK nobody with any real clout is sticking up for humble honey bee. Where this leaves the future of one of our major pollinators of food crops is anybody’s guess.
There are no others, there is only us.
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