Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CCD: Ban the neo-nicotinoids and fipronil, and see what happens

O dear. With a heavy heart, I dip my toe into the waters of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) affecting bees.

Heavy heart, because of the amount of detail and counter-detail that I have to wade through. But someone has to do it.

Every skuleboy kno that bees are vital for our crop fertility. Every skuleboy kno that CCD is an existential  threat to bees and therefore humans. Every skuleboy kno that CCD will be multifactorial, but that pesticides is likely to be one of the factors.

1-2 skuleboys kno that Bayer's neo-nicotinoid pesticide has been linked to CCD. Everybody except Mordorch-influenced, gullible journalists know therefore that Bayer will be spending millions to prevent this link becoming common knowledge.

So what are the scientific paths to be followed to establish the link?
Bradford Hill rolled out a series of hoops that any hypothesis should jump through in order to link an environmental agent with disorder. It is going to take decades to "prove" (i.e. test) the link, by which time the honeybee could be in serious peril globally. This is a challenge, and needs a lot of focused, direct work. Here immediately we come up with a problem. Bayer refuses to have the investigations cover plant protection products to the same extent as other factors.
  Here we go. Tobacco, climate change, bees - the Almighty Corporations are in there, defending their profits, over all other considerations.  As I reluctantly study and write, with the green blue and golden world calling me outside, Bayer has well-paid teams deployed in spinning and lobbying. They have been paying the British Beekeepers Association.

However, science is science. What do we know about Bayer's Imidocloprid? Its effects on termites include apparent failure of the immune system, and disorientation.  And so on. I cannot detail all the evidence today - the sun is shining.

To cut to the chase, the big experiment is - what happens to the bee population if suspect pesticides are withdrawn? Well, France did this experiment, partially, in 1994. They banned Imidacloprid, Bayer's neo-nicotinoid. There was a brief recovery, but to Bayer's relief, CCD began again after a few months. Why? Because the ban was only partial, on sunflowers, and other crops were still offering Bayer's products. Also, another pesticide, Fipronil, was used as a substitute, and that also has a link with CCD.

So, we have a choice. Either we fiddle with the science while the bee colonies collapse, or we have a complete moratorium on use of any pesticide suspected of being complicit in CCD, and see if the bee populations recover.


I'm off out now.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

There are way too many chemicals being used by industry.