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While the WikiLeaks media frenzy may have been focused on the release of tens of thousands of classified military and U.S. State Department documents, it’s a leaked Environmental Protection Agency document that has conservationists, environmentalists and beekeepers abuzz.
The November 2nd memo, leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, indicates that the EPA was well-aware that the pesticide Clothianidin posed some serious risks to honey bees. There have been concerns about this chemical from as far back as 2003, and it’s already been banned in Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia because of its toxicity. But the EPA chose to sweep all that under the rug to keep the pesticide on the market.
Clothianidin, marketed as “Poncho” by Bayer, is widely used on corn, as well as canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers and wheat. As if the $262 million cash crop from last year wasn’t enough, Bayer wants to keep expanding the pesticide’s use. And the company’s original registration was based on some seriously flawed science: they evaluated the wrong crop, with the wrong controls to assess the impact on bees.
This all adds up to some serious questions about the government contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder as they knowingly allowed Bayer to poison bees. And this is about a lot more than honey production … native habitats, and as much as one-third of America’s food supply, rely on the pollination provided by bees.
In light of the leaked memo, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the EPA requesting that the agency “take urgent action to stop the use of this toxic chemical.”
The letter goes on to point out that this new information indicates an overuse of the Office of Pesticide Program’s conditional registration program. This bee boondoggle “represents a failure that could and should have been avoided.” As a result, the coalition is calling for an immediate moratorium on these types of registration until the program is evaluated.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Colony Collapse Disorder and the massive bee die-offs it’s been causing. One thing we do know is that bees are in trouble, and that’s not good news for all the animals (and humans) who rely on the plants these important insects sustain.
Join the call for the EPA to stop the sale of Poncho and conduct a thorough study into the pesticide’s impact on wildlife.
Tip of the hat to David Williams for the FB link