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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (aka who watches the watchmen)?

Called Colony Collapse Disorder, there is something killing honeybees. They are dying in "huge numbers." Scientists from the US Environmental Protection Agency think one of the causes is an insecticide called clothianidin produced by Bayer. Clothianidin was conditionally approved by the EPA in 2003. "In 2009 almost 29 percent of the bee colonies in the United States collapsed, say scientists who surveyed commercial beekeepers and brokers," resulting from something "going on for four years."

Although birds and bees aren't the only pollinators, many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees. Fewer bees mean less pollination, and that means less plant growth. Less plant growth means higher prices for food, clothing, and medicine (as less of each will be produced)… not to mention more people starving.

The EPA's mission "is to protect human health and the environment." But corporatism rules the US government. So, sometimes, regulations contradict what the government's own scientists are saying, such as:

Clothianidin's major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees).

Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis.

What can be done to protect the public from the regulatory agencies that are not fulfilling their mission? Would private organizations be better to protect human health and the environment (and don't forget that Bayer is such an organization)? Is the public defenseless when governments act in collusion with private businesses and implement policies that favor bad behavior? Should the EPA be defunded?

An internal EPA memo released Wednesday confirms that the very agency charged with protecting the environment is ignoring the warnings of its own scientists about clothianidin, a pesticide from which Bayer racked up €183 million (about $262 million) in sales in 2009.

Clothianidin has been widely used on corn, the largest U.S. crop, since 2003. Suppliers sell seeds pre-treated with it. Like other members of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, clothianidin gets "taken up by a plant's vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar," according to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), which leaked the document along with Beyond Pesticides. That effect makes it highly toxic to a crop's pests -- and also harmful to pollen-hoarding honeybees, which have experienced mysterious annual massive die-offs (known as "colony collapse disorder") here in the United States at least since 2006.

The colony-collapse phenomenon is complex and still not completely understood. While there appears to be no single cause for the annual die-offs, mounting evidence points to pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoids (derived from nicotine), as a key factor. And neonicotinoids are a relatively new factor in ecosystems frequented by honeybees -- introduced in the late 1990s, these systemic insecticides have gained a steadily rising share of the seed-treatment market. It does not seem unfair to observe that the health of the honeybee population has steadily declined over the same period.

According to PANNA, other crops commonly treated with clothianidin include canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat -- all among the most widely planted U.S. crops. Bayer is now petitioning the EPA to register it for use with cotton and mustard seed.

Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists' red flags


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jun 29, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=589

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