BeeKey Leaks...Leaked EPA Memo Says Bayer Research Flawed. EPA Knowingly Allows Use of Bee Killing Pesticide Clothianidin
I am not sure where the mainstream media has been on this story. Obviously Wiki Leaks is a hot topic along with the economy and the devaluation of our US Dollar and...well you get the point. Still, one would think that the fact that the EPA, by allowing Bayer to sell a toxic pesticide called clothianidin, is jeopardizing a third of American agriculture would be newsworthy. From what I can tell from looking at public documents, as far back as far back as 2003 the EPA knew the safety of Bayer's clothianidin to bees was based on extremely flawed data and requested further study. Clothianidin has already been banned by Germany, France, Italy, and Slovenia for its toxic effects.
Now with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) putting the very survival of bees, and their ability to pollinate our food supply through big agriculture, in jeopardy, Bayer's flawed data it is suddenly big news. Some bloggers are erroneously reporting that someone at the EPA leaked information to a Beekeeper that shows they are continuing to allow the use of this harmful pesticide even though they know the research is flawed. Actually the information that was supposedly "leaked" is public and it was given to Tom Theobold at his request.
Beekeeper Tom Theobold wrote an article about clothianidin, bees and the EPA last July for the issue of BeeKeeper Magazine titled "Do We Have a Pesticide Blowout?" Soon after he was contacted by an unidentified EPA employee who told him that his article had prompted the EPA to review the pesticide's original life cycle study before approving clothianidin for use on cotton and mustard.
"They told me that EPA scientists had reviewed the original lifecycle study and determined it wasn't scientifically sound, and I asked if it had been documented, if there was a hard copy," he says, "The [employee] said yes, and I asked if I could get a copy." And just like that, he had the proof he needed that the EPA had overlooked something that could be killing America's bees.
In 2003, the EPA approved clothianidin for use in the United States. Since then, it’s become widely used, with farmers purchasing $262 million worth of clothianidin last year. It’s used on used on sugar beets, canola, soy, sunflowers, wheat and corn, the last a pollen-rich crop planted more widely than any other in the United States, and a dietary favorite of honeybees.
There have been many theories on the cause of CCD and some debate as to whether or not it is actually a real problem culminating from a single cause. Though colony collapse disorder likely has many causes, from mites to bacteria to fungus to the physiological stresses and epidemiological risks of industrial beekeeping, pesticides are prime suspects.
Citing the imminent economic and environmental hazards posed by the continued use of clothianidin, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, Beekeeping Federation, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network, North America and Center for Biological Diversity are asking EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to exercise the Agency’s emergency powers to take the pesticide off the market.
"The environment has become the experiment and all of us – not just bees and beekeepers – have become the experimental subjects," said Tom Theobald, a 35-year beekeeper. "In an apparent rush to get products to the market, chemicals have been routinely granted "conditional" registrations. Of 94 pesticide active ingredients released since 1997, 70% have been given conditional registrations, with unanswered questions of unknown magnitude. In the case of clothianidin those questions were huge. The EPA's basic charge is "the prevention of unreasonable risk to man and the environment" and these practices hardly satisfy that obligation. We must do better, there is too much at stake."
Tom Theobald's honey crop this year is the smallest he's seen in 35 years of beekeeping. "This is the critical winter for the beekeeping industry. I don't think we can survive," he says. "If the beekeeping industry collapses, it jeopardizes a third of American agriculture.
As of today, the EPA has no plans to ban clothianidin in the U.S. Theobald hopes that all the press surrounding the issue will trigger the agency to change its mind. It has to, he says. "The EPA management needs to step forward, face the music, take its lumps and do things right. If they continue to try to bury this, they're going to look more pathetic than they do already."
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Sources: WIRED, Fast Company, BEE Culture, PAN North America, EPA, The Telegraph
Image Source:Flickr/Jack Wolf