Friday, January 6, 2017

Pesticide Manufacturers Knew All Along About Honeybee Harm

Recently Unearthed Documents Reveal Pesticide Manufacturers Knew All Along About Honeybee Harm
By Kurtis Bright

They’ve Known About Neonicotinoids’ Harmfulness to Bees for Years

When a person you have known to be a liar all along is finally revealed to all the world for what he or she really is, it is so very satisfying. However it often turns out to be something of a hollow victory: when a liar has already reaped the benefits of lying for so long, it almost doesn’t matter once they are finally caught. Extracting revenge is likely impossible as a practical matter--the damage lies and liars do goes far beyond that which can be repaired solely by public exposure.

That is the way many in the sustainable community are no doubt feeling in the wake of the revelation that newly released secret documents obtained from pesticide manufacturers shows their own tests revealed that they knew all along about the harm their neonicotinoids could do to honeybees.

Greenpeace conducted the investigation, using documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and it has revealed a trove of unpublished field trials that were conducted by pesticide manufacturers. These studies clearly demonstrated that manufacturers knew all along that their neonicotinoid products were indeed capable of causing serious harm to honeybees. 

The original studies were conducted by Syngenta and Bayer during the period when they were developing their neonicotinoid pesticides, and were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. Thus they are part of the public record, and subject to the scrutiny of anyone who wished to file an FOIA request.

We live in a very different world now: neonicotinoids are the world’s most heavily used pesticide, and have earned the aforementioned companies billions of dollars.

At the same time, they have decimated the global honeybee population, jeopardizing the future of food and our ability to feed ourselves outside the purview of agrichem companies’ control.

The data obtained in the recently released studies had to do with examining a couple of neonicotinoid chemicals: Bayer’s clothianidin and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam. The effects they had on honeybees when applied at varying concentrations were the focus of much of the work, and the tests showed conclusively that at high concentrations, both chemicals could cause serious harm to the pollinators.

Now that it is known that honeybees are indeed being harmed by their products, senior researchers in government, universities, NGOs and in the private sector are calling for the companies to release all their data, and stop playing coy. They reason that, since the genie is already out of the bottle and we know the truth about neonicotinoids, the least these companies can do is assist researchers who are trying to understand the mechanisms of how the bee colonies are affected, and perhaps what can be done about it.

“Bayer and Syngenta’s commitment to pollinator health should include publishing these data or otherwise making them public,” said Christian Krupke, an entomologist at Purdue University. “This work presents a rich dataset that could greatly benefit the many publicly-funded scientists examining the issue worldwide, including avoiding costly and unnecessary duplication of research.”

Perhaps researchers like Krupke are more forgiving than some: there are also calls for severe penalties for Syngenta and Bayer for covering up the truth all these years.

Indeed it might be fair to say that their greed-based obfuscation was not only criminal, but genocidal, especially when you consider how reliant humankind is on pollinators being able to do their job.

We eagerly await the hammer of justice to be come down swinging from the EPA.

But don’t hold your breath; they've been working for Monsanto and Bayer et al for years now.

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