Will the Last Bee in the Hive Please Turn Out the Lights

Monsanto was recently sold to the Germans at Bayer and its name changed, no doubt to end-run its toxic history. That’s a common ‘business accommodation’ to a long history of ruining farmlands in the name of profit. According to Wikipedia,

The company once manufactured controversial products such as the insecticide DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and recombinant bovine growth hormone.

Controversial, were they?

DDT brought us Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, PCBs cause liver, gall bladder, biliary tract, gastrointestinal tract, and brain cancer, and may be linked to breast cancer. Agent Orange did its level-best to level all plant-life in Vietnam (plus poisoning our troops, along with masses of Vietnamese) and growth hormones in cattle transferred directly into plastic-packaged meat in the coolers of your favorite grocery. I’d count that as a bit of controversy.

But bees? Who needs ‘em?

The taste-generators—those chemical labs that make bacon taste more like bacon, rather than the glitterati who determine fashion—will doubtless create a honey that is more honey-like. My name for it would be Extinction Honey, but the marketing gurus will no doubt come up with a more tasty choice.

So we’ll still have something honey-like for our morning English muffins, but will have lost the planet’s major pollinators in the meantime. No bees, mostly (but not entirely) no crops. And bee populations across the world are in a state of collapse.

Insect ‘apocalypse’ in U.S.

What are neonics?

Neonic insecticides are used on over 140 different agricultural crops in more than 120 countries. They attack the central nervous system of insects, causing overstimulation of their nerve cells, paralysis and death.  And they kill the birds that eat the insects, the rabbits that graze the crops and the hawks that eat the rabbits.

But why should I care? Jesus, there’s starvation across the world, wars everywhere, the environment going to hell and a pandemic raging. We’re all wearing masks and scared to death. You’re worried about bees?

Yeah well, it’s a food-chain thing

The food-chain is a pyramid and we’re at the top—us and our grocery stores with fifteen kinds of lettuce and avocados year around. Think of it in terms of pyramid schemes and Bernie Madoff. Payoff at the top (that’s us) depends on a steady flow of income at the bottom (that’s trusting investors and insects).

When the bottom drops out, it all goes to hell.

Bayer-Monsanto makes imidacloprid and clothianidin, two of the three neonicotinoids that contributed most to overall toxicity, according to the PLOS One study. Syngenta-ChemChina makes the third one, thiamethoxam.

Yep, Monsanto’s still in the game, no matter that the European Union banned neonicotinoids for field use based on their harm to pollinators. America has yet to do so, but America is hampered by an Environmental Protection Agency that’s wholly in the hands of lobbyists and a disfunctional Congress.

But I have an easy do-it-yourself test for what’s happened to insects where you live. Remember bugs on the windshield in summer? When’s the last time you had to scrub the windshield when you stopped for gas?

There’s hope, if we have sense enough to listen

Farms using neonics had 10 times the insect pressure and half the profits compared to those who use regenerative farming methods instead of insecticides according a 2018 study. Regenerative agriculture uses cover crops, no-till and other methods to increase on-farm biodiversity and soil health. The regenerative corn-soy operations in the study didn’t have to worry about insect problems, said co-author Jonathan Lundgren.

Farmers who are dependent on chemicals are going out of business, said Lundgren, who is also a grain farmer in South Dakota. “It’s painful to see when we have tested, scientifically sound solutions. Working with nature is a good business decision,” he says. That comes straight from the farmer, rather than the horse’s mouth.

So that’s why you should care

There’s a cure at the bottom of the food-chain.

And it turns a profit.

And it keeps you and me at the top.



Photo Credit: Farm Online

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