Leaked EPA Memos May Explain Massive Bee Die-Off

HoneybeeCMD's guest blogger, Jill Richardson, has done some ground-breaking reporting on the potential cause of the massive bee die-off.  According to Jill's investigation, leaked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memos reveal that the agency gave conditional approval to pesticides now in wide use, without requiring adequate proof that they are safe to use around honeybees. In the wake of the new information, beekeepers are starting to blame the country's massive die-off of honeybees on the pesticides. A leaked EPA memo dated November 2, 2010, discusses Bayer CropScience's efforts to legalize use of its pesticide clothianidin on mustard seed and cotton crops. EPA gave conditional approval for the chemical in 2003 and let Bayer start selling it, but told the company that they needed to complete further safety testing by a certain deadline to get full approval. The  additional testing was to assure the chemical was safe to use around honeybees. Bayer failed to do the testing for years, and instead sought and received an extension of the conditional permit to use the chemical. When Bayer finally performed the study, they did it in another country, and on crops that aren't grown much in the U.S. Bayer also used bees that were located on a small patch of treated crops surrounded by thousands of acres on untreated crops -- a design that handed Bayer the result it wanted by making the chemical appear safe to use. EPA deemed the defective study acceptable and gave full registration to clothianidin in 2007. In November, 2010, when Bayer asked to extend use of the pesticide to more types of crops, EPA still did not comment on the inadequacy of Bayer's study. Beekeepers are incensed at this information, and along with others are asking why EPA allows pesticides to go onto the market before they have been adequately safety tested. They also wonder how sound the science around such studies can be when they are performed by the pesticide makers themselves.


Then will there be any regulation at all. Do we just move into our own China syndrome.

Your reasoning is flawed. Ron Paul and other conservatives want to get rid of the EPA because they believe it restricts job growth, not because it doesn't do its job well enough. If this report is accurate, it shows the EPA allowed a corporation to introduce a product into the environment without adequate testing, putting the food supply at risk. Paul and other conservatives (he claims to be Libertarian, but the practical effect of his policies is to empower pretty much every conservative point of view) want to eliminate government agencies because of their mistaken ideology that people will always make wise and good decisions if left free to do so. This is demonstrably false via a multitude of examples in which agencies failed to act to protect public interest while allowing corporate interests to profit. The 2008 Wall Street collapse is the most evident example. Conservatives have made great efforts to convince people that deregulation is the solution to a huge problem that was caused by deregulation in the first place. I find this to be an insidious form of lying.

I think it is a mistake to blame a single pesticide or other factor as the reason the bee population has declined. I would think that their are many factors created by modern agri-business and environmental and ecosystem damage. The combination of pesticides,herbicides,land clearing and genetically modified crops with inbuilt pesticides combined with more extreme weather including hotter days and less available unpolluted water must impact on all insect populations. The hotter weather also can mean some fungal and viral diseases are more likely to occur. Probably the greatest threat to all pollinators is the use of genetically modified biological insect controls. An example of this was the modification of a virus that impacts on cabbage moths by adding a scorpion gene making the virus not only deadly to cabbage moths but also to all other pollinators. Had the release of this virus into the environment not been stopped by some alert scientists the human population may have been on the way out along with bees and pollinating moths.

It would appear, Mr. Scott, that in some way you have a vested interest in this deluded, vague comment.

Thanks for this illuminating piece.

Pesticides brought to you by Bayer, that nice corporate member of ALEC.