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Bee-killing pesticide approved by EPA
December 14, 2010 2:01 AM   Subscribe

A leaked document shows the EPA under the Bush administration approved the pesticide clothianidin for widespread use on many crops, including corn, despite the findings from EPA scientists that it was a bee-killer. It may be responsible for the recent "Honeybee Depopulation Syndrome," which has been negatively affecting agriculture throughout North America. Previously.
posted by Slap*Happy (41 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The War Against Honey.
posted by gomichild at 2:17 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bring Back DDT, and Science With It!

I don't get these conservatives. They cling to their flimsy economic theories as if they were scientific facts whilst denying physical science actually based on physical facts.

Just rephrase this to say that the EPA is approving pesticides is to support the growth of the cap-and-trade, bio-fuel industry and Sarah Palin will immediately Twitter for it to be banned.
posted by three blind mice at 2:19 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reality is a social construct right? So all of us humans can get together and agree that the years 2000 - 2008 didn't happen. Or maybe we'll just say that Gore won, had a mediocre unexciting four year term and was replaced by a moderate Republican. Please. Please. Please.
posted by rdr at 2:25 AM on December 14, 2010


Well shit. I mean yeah I knew the EPA under Bush was a joke, we all did. Really though. An actual war on bees. Say one thing for the Decider, say he'll make war on anything. On the plus side doesn't this mean every bee-keeper who lost bees can sue the beejesus out of Bayer?
posted by Peztopiary at 2:40 AM on December 14, 2010


I fear that the full extent of damage done during the Bush years won't be known for decades to come, it has been so profound.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:45 AM on December 14, 2010 [42 favorites]


It's interesting that this leak has nothing to do with Wikileaks. The corresponding Wired story says "according to documents leaked to a Colorado beekeeper", which perhaps suggests that a leak to a beekeeper is somehow the same as a Statle Department leak to a news organization.

I for one applaud this new world where a "leak" can have the same importance as a "tweet".
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:46 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "look forward as opposed to looking backwards" folder is getting awfully thick.
posted by Karmadillo at 3:01 AM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm just surprised that a Republican administration went after a policy that they knew would cause economic trouble for an industry that is dominated by large businesses. I don't really know what to make of that, unless they were so dead set against the EPA on principle that they were willing to go against one of their own goals.
posted by Saydur at 3:03 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, another DAMNING piece of evidence illustrating how Bush ruined the world for the next hundred years. We have no chance. Vote Democrat!!!
posted by Patbon at 3:57 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There may be another cause for the bees dying.

Doesn't change the fact that the EPA behavior is pretty awful, of course.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:01 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


In Australia it's used as a spray and carries a warning ...

Dr Simon Cubit, Public Affairs spokesman for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), confirmed there are two clothianidin products registered in Australia which are likely to come into contact with bees, but they carry warning labels advising users not to spray any plants in flower while bees are foraging. Clothianidin is registered for use on cotton, bananas, apples, pears, peaches and nectarines to treat a range of pests.

Large scale depopulation hasn't occurred here (yet).

But Fipronil is seemingly just as evil

Fipronil is one of the main chemical causes blamed for the spread of colony collapse disorder among bees. It has been found by the Minutes-Association for Technical Coordination Fund in France that even at very low nonlethal doses for bees, the pesticide still impairs their ability to locate their hive, resulting in large numbers of forager bees lost with every pollen-finding expedition.

Fipronil is marketed as Frontline (you may have used it on your dog) and Termidor (I know it's been used on my house).
posted by a non e mouse at 4:02 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm just surprised that a Republican administration went after a policy that they knew would cause economic trouble for an industry that is dominated by large businesses. I don't really know what to make of that,

Bayer was the highest bidder? The problem is not that government is pro-business, but that it is corruptly biased to benefit certain businesses.
posted by three blind mice at 4:15 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem is not that government is pro-business, but that it is corruptly biased to benefit certain businesses.

No, it's both.
posted by DU at 4:25 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Leaked, you say? Anyone want to lay odds on how long it takes the Obama Justice Department to issue indictments of the whistleblowers?
posted by indubitable at 4:30 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by lagreen at 5:11 AM on December 14, 2010


Seriously, this makes me so sad. Another species on the brink of extinction because of human greed.
posted by lagreen at 5:13 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


We Americans have come to assume that every malignant government act involves a cover-up and is only discovered through leaks, but that doesn't appear to be the case here. Other stories on the "leaked" EPA document claim that it wasn't really a leak:
"They told me that EPA scientists had reviewed the original lifecycle study and determined it wasn't scientifically sound, and I asked if it had been documented, if there was a hard copy," he says, "The [employee] said yes, and I asked if I could get a copy." And just like that, he had the proof he needed that the EPA had overlooked something that could be killing America's bees.

"Everybody is keyed on the leaked memo, but basically it's a public document," adds Theobald. He just happened to be the first one to learn about it and ask for it. "The shock was that they did the study at all."
Transparency won't save us from the corporate monsters we've made.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:20 AM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Is the world safe for a moment enough to take a leak?

and, for the bees and gaia/ceres/demeter/

.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 5:56 AM on December 14, 2010


By the way, "the brink of extinction" for bees is likely to mean a huge disruption in agriculture and the ancillary loss of other species who depend on bees for pollination. Thinking about bees or tigers as if they're just one thing in isolation, and it's too bad and the world will carry on is not realistic. Even if bees don't become extinct, if they become unable to function as a major pollinator in agriculture, we're in for it.
posted by sneebler at 6:03 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


The bee thing scared the crap out of me. I love honey, and the idea of bees just dying for no reason worried me deeply for some reason. Being able to blame Bush for this just makes me want to kick him in the wang.
posted by djduckie at 6:06 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


lagreen: Seriously, this makes me so sad. Another species on the brink of extinction because of human greed.

European Honeybees have been reduced in population, but I'm sure they're not even vaguely 'at the brink of extinction.' Also, in most of their range (including all of North America), they're an exotic species anyway. So, while bees are an incredibly useful agricultural tool, you don't have to worry about nature when they're harmed. Nature would be way happier if you could eradicate them from 90% of their range and let the native bee species repopulate.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:14 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


The War Against Honey.
The bee thing scared the crap out of me. I love honey,


Honey is good, but the Big Issue here is pollination. Without it all vegetable and fruit crops would fail. Without bees you have to do it by hand. If it were done by hand, even with our agricultural slavery, food prices would rise to the point where a large segment of the population couldn't any.
posted by clarknova at 6:21 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


* commercial bees
* couldn't afford any
posted by clarknova at 6:23 AM on December 14, 2010


A related article on pesticide spraying financed by the US in Guatemala where they are also suffering hive loss
posted by InkaLomax at 6:25 AM on December 14, 2010


Mitrovarr, thanks for that clarification. I hesitated writing "extinction," because I figured it wasn't exactly accurate, and I appreciate having more facts. I never knew they were an exotic species--how interesting.
posted by lagreen at 6:55 AM on December 14, 2010


This.
posted by jefficator at 7:08 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


So ...corn is responsible for all ill in the world?

Sounds about right.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 AM on December 14, 2010


I mean, besides, flowers are all gay and shit, right? Except Turdblossom, he's awesome.
posted by symbioid at 8:05 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia lists about 50 pesticides toxic to bees. Clothianidin is listed, but only banned in Germany. I suspect the science on this is still fairly new and so the EPA is not fully up to speed on banning it yet. As usual, Europe leads and the US follows on public health issues.
posted by stbalbach at 8:13 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


As regards the partisan angle on this, there's plenty of blame to go around. It may have started during the Bush years (not surprising), but it was not until 2010 (well into Obama's term) that the EPA granted this clothianidin stuff non-provisional approval.
posted by richyoung at 8:21 AM on December 14, 2010


"according to documents leaked to a Colorado beekeeper"
You hear that, Assange? Even if they shut down your site, you can still leak documents to the beekeepers.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:22 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh christ, I've got this espionage movie/novel forming in my head where messages are passed through beedances, and leaks are given out to "The Beekeeper" and "They" know this, so "they" work towards killing the bees off through a devious plot.
posted by symbioid at 8:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like I live in the age of the "Final Facepalm" where people work very hard to come up with chemicals to alter the natural process of pests eating crops and in the same breath tell you humans cannot impact the environment in any significant way, therefore, who needs regulation?
posted by yeloson at 8:38 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A leaked document...

Treason!
posted by aaronetc at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holy moly. Yes. Bush's war on bees. A story:

The Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas has a beehive. My Pa, a hobbyist beekeeper, tended these bees for a few years. I got to help him a couple of times when I was a teenager. We once got to meet the future president out in the parking area as we were getting ready to leave.

I don't remember the exact conversation, but it came out that G.W. carried around an epipen because his father was allergic to bees. I guess he figured he was allergic too. I suppose he doesn't like bees too much. Pa, cheeky man that he is, said that beekeeping is much like politics. Bunch of smoke blowing tends to calm a buzzing hive. Guess the Governor took that to heart.
posted by Mister Cheese at 8:49 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Mitrovarr: in most of their range (including all of North America), they're an exotic species anyway. So, while bees are an incredibly useful agricultural tool
Sure, the European honeybee is non-native to North America. As are several of the crops this agricultural tool is used to pollinate (maize and potatoes not being one of those; squashes, however, are).
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 9:24 AM on December 14, 2010


Nature would be way happier if you could eradicate them from 90% of their range and let the native bee species repopulate.

Nature would actually be way happier if natural habitat were retained around cropland. Honey bees have little to no effect on native bee populations (Africanized bees may be an exception). It is far more important to reduce pesticide use and retain even fragments of natural habitat if we want to promote native bees.



"Pollination services from native bees were significantly, positively related to the proportion of upland natural habitat in the vicinity of farm sites, but not to any other factor studied, including farm type, insecticide usage, field size and honeybee abundance."<>/em>

"We found no evidence that native bee abundance and diversity declined in response to increased honey bee abundance. In both 2000 and 2001, neither total native bee abundance nor diversity was significantly related to honey bee abundance across farm sites ."

"Species richness and abundance of solitary wild bees showed a close positive correlation with the percentage of seminatural habitats at small scales up to 750 m, whereas bumble bees and honey bees did not respond to landscape context at these scales. In contrast, honey bees were correlated with landscape context at large scales. The densities of flower-visiting honey bees even increased with decreasing proportion of seminatural habitats at a radius of 3000 m. We are not aware of any empirical studies showing contrasting foraging patterns related to landscape context at different spatial scales. We conclude (1) that local landscape destruction affects solitary wild bees more than social bees, possibly changing mutualistic plant–pollinator and competitive wild bees–honey bees interactions and (2) that only analyses of multiple spatial scales may detect the importance of the landscape context for local pollinator communities."

posted by oneirodynia at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2010


Colony Collapse Disorder is a serious issue, but hyperbole about the extinction of european honeybees and the disintegration of all the pollinated foodchain is untrue.

European honeybees are nowhere near close to extinction, they're not even close to threatened, or even vulnerable.

Also, the pollination issues people speak about are not food chain issues, they are commercial and economic issues. European honeybees are only really vital for a small selection of commercial crops like almonds, some of the berries, soybeans etc. And even then, they can be pollinated by other species - we just don't currently have the numbers to do that.

If CCD absolutely exploded tomorrow and 90% of the european honeybees in continental America disappeared, the effect would be several domestic agricultural industries effectively destroyed - at least for several years, this would cost jobs, money and push the price for those items higher as the US would be forced to import.

However, the changes to food supply, and the broader ecosystems in America where honeybees currently flourish would be minimal, and probably unnoticeable to the general public.

CCD is serious - mostly from a commercial perspective - but hysteria and ignorance about honeybees and pollination will not help address the problem. Note, I am not defending the use of these pesticides etc.
posted by smoke at 3:54 PM on December 14, 2010


Really though. An actual war on bees

We were warned
posted by wildcrdj at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2010


clarknova writes "Honey is good, but the Big Issue here is pollination. Without it all vegetable and fruit crops would fail."

That's hyperbole. Lots of crops either don't need pollination (EG: potatoes, bananas, many citrus fruits of the seedless variety); don't use insect pollinators (EG: corn, wheat, some stone fruits); or are pollinated by other insects (EG: Paw Paws(flies)).
posted by Mitheral at 6:49 PM on December 14, 2010


Yep, as a beekeeper, you can track the sudden die-offs to local farms using insecticide, planting crops that produce their own insecticide, and so on. Yes, there's disease issues as well, but most of the beekeepers I know say they're seeing the same thing: driving around after a dieoff, you can smell which farmer just doused his farm with something toxic. Where I live it isn't much of an issue, the hives recover pretty quickly, but seeing a carpet of dead and dying bees in front of your hive is never pleasant.
posted by Blackanvil at 12:55 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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