Pennsylvania beekeeper David Hackenberg has been trying to warn the world about the effects of pesticides on bees for more than six years.
MAINE–(ENEWSPF)–March 25, 2013. Six full years since SafeLawns first tried to warn the world about the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, beekeepers around the world remain frustrated with government inaction regarding a class of pesticides known as synthetic nicotines.
“Europe is way ahead of us on this and it will be hard for the United States to ignore it (if they ban it),” said beekeeper David Hackenberg last September. Hackenberg — who first coined the phrase colony collapse disorder in late 2006 and tried to warn his colleagues about the pesticide connection with a letter (Brief_David_Hackenberg in March of 2007) — met with SafeLawns at the Common Ground Fair in Maine when hopes were running high for a European-wide ban on the pesticides.
A week ago numerous scientists and beekeepers were stunned when the chemical industry lobby earned enough votes to essentially create a “hung” jury among the voting nations in Europe. Thirteen voters called for a two-year ban of the neonicotinoids — products like imidacloprid (Merit) and clothianidin — but nine opposed and five abstained.
“Britain and Germany have caved in to the industry lobby and refused to ban bee-killing pesticides,” said Iain Keith, at campaign group Avaaz in an article in The Guardian. “To vote flies in the face of science and public opinion and maintains the disastrous chemical armageddon on bees, which are critical for the future of our food.”
Meanwhile, this past Thursday a group of American environmental organizations and beekeepers sued the EPA, which has repeatedly turned its back on study after study that links these pesticide to massive bee deaths.
“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production. It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.”
The suit comes amidst an incredibly difficult season for almond farmers in California who literally couldn’t find enough healthy colonies of bees to suitably cross-pollinate their crops.
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees. The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Center for Food Safety attorney, Peter T. Jenkins.
Meanwhile, the original whistle-blower wonders how much longer he and his brethren in the bee industry can survive.
“It’s not just the bees you worry about, it’s also the beekeepers,” said Hackenberg. “The mental and physical toll on us, year after year, is almost unbearable. Really, you have to be almost a crazy person to get into this industry right now. When your own government turns its back on you, it’s devastating in its own right.”
About the Author
Paul Tukey is an international leader of the green movement. Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America’s leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.