This May Day, I want to give a special shout-out to a segment of the working population that may be small in stature, but is huge in productiveness and dedication.
Let’s hear it for the much-beleaguered honey bees!
It is no secret that honeybees, particularly in the developed world, have been in trouble these past few years.
If you’ve been paying attention, you have probably heard by now of so-called “colony collapse disorder,” which first surfaced around 2005—not at all coincidentally, just around the time that a powerful new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, was introduced to Western commercial agriculture.
Neonicotinoids are pesticides that are incorporated into the plants themselves. According to their patent-holders, they only harm the kinds of insects that actually chew on the plants.
But growing scientific evidence suggests that these highly toxic chemicals also harm bees, who have to stick their heads into pollen-laden flowers and tassels in the course of their day-to-day work routines, and who bring back to their hives insecticide-laden pollen to feed the next generation of workers.
European bees just got a huge concession from the European Union, which, as of this week, will be restricting the use of three of the most prevalent neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for the next two years, while more stringent studies are conducted.
The United States, where commercial beekeepers are reporting the loss of 40 to 50 percent of their colonies, must do the same.
Not only could the loss of the hardworking honeybee be a total disaster for agriculture, but we also have no idea what the effects on humans may be of eating chemically engineered plants.
Where health is concerned, the burden of proof should rest on the chemical companies to prove their products are safe.
Instead, what we are living—and dying—with now is a deeply flawed version of “innocent until proven guilty.”
How many billions of bees have to die before the federal agencies responsible for the health of humans, our agriculture and our environment get the message that something is seriously wrong with the toxic brew being inculcated into our crops?
It has been suggested that exposure to such chemicals may be playing a role in the explosion of autism that is plaguing American society, with neo-natal exposure and toxic breast milk a major concern.
Do you want really want to give the chemical companies the benefit of the doubt? Or would you rather play it safe with the next generation?
This May Day, I serenade the humble honeybee. If you care about this mighty little worker, and all of us who depend on her production, you can take individual action on her behalf.