Pesticides May Threaten Global Food Supply

Most people have heard about the old practice of the canary in the coal mine. Before humans went down in a new mine, a canary in a cage would be lowered down with rope and raised back up. If the canary was alive then there was sufficient oxygen for the miners. If the canary was dead—it was not safe.

Bees, among other things, serve this purpose with regard to our food supply. And many bees are coming up dead. Bees pollinate a huge number of crops including California’s almond trees. It is estimated that a majority of the 100 largest crops worldwide depend on pollinators. It’s fairly clear the fate of bees and humans are inexorably linked.

Some beekeepers are experiencing hive losses of 90%, others 40% to 80%. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder. There are a couple of theories for what is causing it. A certain class of pesticides called Neonicotinoids have been temporarily banned in Europe. Not so in the US. China is a big manufacturer.

Some genetically modified foods have insecticides spliced into their genomes. Insecticides kill insects. Bees are insects. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make these connections. Right now we are depending on pesticide manufacturers to decide if there are any unintended consequences to the use of their untested chemicals. If miners sent bees down into a mine, and 40% to 90% came back up dead I doubt they’d consider it safe for humans.

In an aGREATER.US poll where the ratings of Liberals, Independents, and Conservatives are given equal weight, the tripartisan score for the No Bees-No Humans Act (which would ban the use of neonicotinoids until they were proven safe for use around bees) was 91% positive. This sends a rather clear message. Is this poll reflective of society’s opinions? I couldn’t find any other polling data either way.

What do you think about government(s) being involved in bee protection?