Plan B on planet E

Wednesday 11th April 2012

BEES are in danger of becoming an endangered species. This is not new news. Numbers have been declining for thirty years. Aberdeen scientists are concerned about the varroa mite; the Harvard School of Public Health talks of ‘convincing evidence’ linking imidacloprid, an insecticide, with colony collapse disorder; a Reading University professor states: “Wild pollinators do an incredible job. It’s a no brainer. We need to take action.”

Would that it were that simple.

Bayer AG, the pharmaceutical company producing the pesticide in question, last year paid out $750 million in a case concerning its genetically modified rice. They describe the Harvard research as ‘factually inaccurate and seriously flawed, both in its methodology and conclusions’.

A number of EU countries have banned imidacloprid, but not the UK. A government spokesperson says this country:

“…has a robust system for assessing risks from pesticides. We keep all the science under review and we will not hesitate to act if we need to.”

Bayer donates about £20,000 annually to the British Beekeepers Association.

Meanwhile, other research is being conducted into the possible cost of hand-pollinating crops were we to succeed in wiping out nature’s most willing work-force – maybe because ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ and the only thing that matters is the price.

Is it just me or have we lost sight of there being two components to the phrase cause and effect?

Be it war, poverty, crime, obesity, social unrest or crises in banking, the general response seems to be to apply sticking-plaster to the problem rather than trying to understand why it happens. An unsuccessful Plan B leads only to the need for more urgent Plans C, D and beyond.

Google has this, from Einstein: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”

Wider research suggests he probably never said it, but why feel smug about debunking the source if you then ignore the common-sense behind its warning?







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