Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Plight of the Honeybee

Dan Rather did an excellent report on the honeybee crisis, also known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).  For several years, honeybee colonies have been dying off in alarming numbers but no one has been able to conclusively determine the cause.  Turns out that scientists within the EPA have been voicing concerns over a class of insecticides called  neonicotinoids since they came up for registration 15 years ago.  But, instead of asking for independent third party studies of the insecticides, EPA administrators accepted the studies done by the chemical companies themselves.  This, as was noted in the report, is like asking the foxes to design the chicken coop.

Obviously, this is just one example, among many, of how politics and economics trump science in the determination of the safety of pesticides, of which there are over 20,000 currently registered with the EPA.  My favorite quote from the report, which I think perfectly encapsulates the problem of letting short term economic gain drive policy, comes from retired EPA scientist Bill Caniglio: "(The EPA) judged the risk to be not as important as the benefits, and in that balance, risk-benefit balance, it's obvious that they are not considering the collapse of the entire food chain.  They are dealing with the benefits from a short term perspective." 

The entire food chain!!!  Ah, capitalism...gotta love it.

PS-the video below is the entire episode of "Dan Rather Reports." The story on honeybees is the first among several stories and runs for less than 30 minutes.
PPS-"The Plight of the Honeybee" is a way better title than "Bee Aware."  Just sayin'.

Bee Aware from Greg Stanley on Vimeo.

Other relevant links:
PAN North America
Huffington Post, Dan Rather Reports
Dan Rather Reports

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