I get a Google alert for ‘colony collapse disorder’ and today I got these two alerts:
18-Year Study Links Neonicotinoids to Bee Colony Decline
Discover Magazine (blog)
… Harvard environmental scientist, was also hit with a wave of criticism after he published a study in 2014 “definitively” linking colony collapse disorder …
Honey Bees Healthy, Taxpayers Stung
The New American
The problem is a syndrome first identified in 2006 and dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It’s characterized not by a hive full of dead bees, but …
The ’18-Year Study’ Article
The article in Discover Magazine cited in the first item,links to the main article in Nature Communications and it’s a study of wild bee populations in the UK over an eighteen-year period.
I believe the results of the study were on the BBC news a couple of nights ago.
The crux of the study is that neonicotinoid pesticides affect bee health. I have been writing about this for several years.
Know Your Sources
Do you know what I do first when I see an article arguing one way or another over CCD and the role that this or that agent plays in the decline?
I look at who did the study.
The authors are Ben Woodcock, Nicholas Isaac, James Bullock, David Roy, David Garthwaite, Andrew Crowe, and Richard Pywell
Under one of the sub-pages of affiliations and competing financial interests it mentions that
Richard Pywell, James Bullock, and Ben Woodcock are
…currently funded by Syngenta and Bayer CropScience to perform a large-scale field study investigating the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on honeybees. This research presented in this paper was not funded by either company, nor were they consulted about this analysis and interpretation.
This may be a terrific scientific paper, but knowing that the authors are funded by the very firms that make and market the insecticides, how far do I trust this scientific paper?
Knowing that Syngenta is involved in funding, how can I trust this paper?
It was Syngenta that got the UK Government to allow continued use of neonicotinoid pesticides against the European Union Food Standards Agency’s European-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.
I have to wonder whether the paper has been set up as a stalking horse to conceal the authors’ real intentions.
I have to wonder whether at some point in the future the results will be exposed as falsified or erroneous and cast doubt on all the good work done on CCD and crop sprays.
I am not saying that’s what the authors have done. I am saying that when the money and the allegiances are tugging in two directions, then I have to wonder how far I can trust the results.
OK, it’s a long shot: Who would set up an argument to prove neonicotinoid pesticides are bad with the intention of later proving the argument wrong? Probably no one.
But I still wonder, and it’s a crying shame because this paper supports the argument that pesticides damage bees.
The ‘Taxpayers Stung’ Article
OK, on to the second item in the Google alert and an article in New American. Skimming a few articles tells me where the site is coming from. And the article follows form in that in basically says that the Obama Administration has taken money out of the pockets of the general population to no effect.
It has done so to fund a useless program to combat CCD. It’s a useless program, says the article, because bees are healthy and anyway, keepers simply buy in new bees when they need them.
It’s a flat out lie about bee health, but someone will read the article and form an opinion and never read anything else.
It’s A Crying Shame
Now that we are capable of turning this planet into a dustbowl, it is a crying shame that even precious things can be politicised and twisted for profit.
As I have commented before, when a bee forages and finds plants with a good amount of nectar, it goes back to the hive and does a dance. Several foraging bees come back and dance. The dance describes the direction of the plants, the distance, and the amount of nectar. The other bees look at the dancing bees and see who is dancing the most enthusiastically. That’s the bee they follow.
Look at the bees – they act for the benefit of the community. They do not lie. They do not send everyone off in the wrong direction for some ulterior motive. What a lovely example. And how do they get repaid – we zap them with spray.
Sometimes I think the real motive of some people is not profit but jealousy. Maybe they couldn’t get over how they weren’t the favourite in the playground at school. Maybe they are just rubbish people. And now they want to spoil the party for everyone.