Thursday, October 22, 2009
(NaturalNews) The pesticides used in industrial agriculture may eventually undermine its very existence by destroying the honeybees upon which the system depends, experts are warning.
“When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students,” wrote former Environmental Protection Agency analyst Evaggelos Vallianatos on the Web site Truthout.org. “He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers’ crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.”
Honeybees are responsible for pollinating more than 90 crops in the United States, for a total value of $15 billion per year in 2007 alone. Yet in the last 20 years, overall honeybee numbers have declined by 30 percent. The population collapse is so severe that U.S. agriculture now depends upon imported bees for pollination.
One of the primary culprits in this collapse is agricultural insecticides, to which bees are exposed every time beekeepers release them to pollinate a non-organic field. According to bee experts, insecticides are well known to cause brain damage and disorientation to bees, sometimes making it impossible for them to navigate back to the hive.
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The hallmark feature of colony collapse disorder is hives entirely or almost entirely abandoned by their bees.
According to entomologist Carl Johansen of Washington State University-Pullman, “the most destructive bee poisoning insecticide ever developed” is a time-release chemical microcapsule known as methyl parathion.
Methyl parathion was first developed as a nerve gas by the Nazi company IG Farben in the 1940s. In its time-release formulation, it slowly releases poison gas over the course of several days. Bees that visit plants treated with the insecticide can bring back the still-releasing capsules to their hives, poisoning an entire colony.
It’s not just the bees that suffer. Parathion also contaminates the honey produced by these bees, entering the human food supply.
Nevertheless, beekeepers regularly recycle the wax from parathion-contaminated hives, and sell the poisonous honey to the public.
This article was posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10:19 am