No More Buzz, No More Life
Bee Population Depletion, and How It Effects You
The food you choose to eat impacts more than just your health. Every day you select fruits and vegetables to consume, only considering how they taste or their health benefits. Little do you realize, with every fruit or vegetable you eat, you are contributing to the destruction of bees. I’m sure at first thought, the idea of those little annoying things being extinct sounds pretty good. Little do you know, we need them significantly.
Bees are known for producing honey; however, they contribute to much more than that. The clothes you are wearing, if they contain cotton, you should thank bees. Do you remember that pet bunny you, or someone you knew, had? The Alfalfa hay that its diet was dependent on, was produced with assistance from bees. That sweet apple pie, the juicy watermelon, and even the pumpkins you carve for Halloween, all wouldn’t thrive without bees. The list goes on. Bees help pollinate our crops, without their assistance we would be forced into figuring out how to pollinate them all by hand ourselves. Having to do so would prove to be not only costly, but time consuming as well. Also, while these products may not go extinct along with the bees, the amount of these crops available would decrease drastically. This would cause prices to rise. The main point here is, if we continue making the food selections we do today, then we can fully expect an entirely different economy than the one we live in today.
Our foods we eat are grown on farms. These farms use pesticides and insecticides. As stated in “Facts about Pesticides”, there are about 800 million pounds of pesticides used every year in the US alone. This number increases every time the need for more fruits and vegetables increase. The less you select locally grown foods, in which you know don’t use or use less pesticides, the more you are causing the amount of pesticides used to increase. The leading manufacturer of these harmful pesticides is a company called Monsanto.
According to Monsanto’s own website, Monsanto, the company has been around since 1901. They control corn, soybean, cotton, wheat, canola, sorghum and sugar cane seeds throughout, not just the entire country, but the entire world. Not only do they own many of the world’s seeds used for producing food, but they also own many of the pesticides and insecticides used as well. Monsanto owns and produces products such as Roundup, Degree Xtra, Harness, Intrro, and Out Rider just to name a few. That is probably why it came to no surprise when it was discovered that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn came up first as a possible suspect in the bee population’s decrease, as described in Oswaks’ article. After stating that the company was caught in the crossfire of blame for the decrease in the bee population, she also goes on to say how the company responded to these accusations.
Oswaks’ article as well as Gucciardi’s related article, both state that Monsanto’s response to this accusation was to buy an organization called Beeologics in September 2011. Beeologics was originally recognized by the USDA which coincidentally works hand in hand with Monsanto. The USDA has gone out of their way to make sure that Monsanto prospers. So it can be concluded that Monsanto has bought this organization in benefit of their corporation. While it can be assumed that Monsanto has something to hide, there are reports proving that they are not the only ones covering their tracks.
In 2008 Mogerman wrote an article for immediate press release. “The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit today to uncover critical information that the US government is withholding about the risks posed by pesticides to honey bees. NRDC legal experts and a leading bee researcher are convinced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has evidence of connections between pesticides and the mysterious honey bee die-offs reported across the country. The phenomenon has come to be called ‘colony collapse disorder,’ or CCD, and it is already proving to have disastrous consequences for American agriculture and the $15 billion worth of crops pollinated by bees every year.”
His article also goes on to state that the EPA did not respond to the request, which required the NRDC to pursue legal action. Even with American bee keepers backing them, due to an untraceable loss of 30-90% of bees in 2008, the government was still astonishingly slow to respond. While this has been an ongoing issue since 2006, and even with these articles dating back to 2008, this is just now as of 2012 and 2013 becoming a large nationally known issue.
The April 2012 article by Benson states, “Three recent field studies, two of which were published in the journal Science, confirm that even sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides among bees causes them to lose their way when out foraging. Many conventional food crops are pretreated or sprayed with neonicotinoid pesticides, which leads to the contamination of pollen and nectar that bees collect.”
So now that our government, as well as other governments worldwide, have hard proof it has become a waiting game to see what actions will be taken. There are many ways to correct this problem before it becomes too late. While our government is being ran by the very people who have caused this issue we can correct it in many ways. Simply ban the suspected pesticide, lessen the amount of pesticides used, or even find alternatives to pesticides altogether are just a few ideas.
While some may fight the idea of pesticide alternatives, you should stop and think for a moment. Think back to hundreds of years ago, back to a time before pesticides existed. During this before pesticide use time period, didn’t we still have a wide variety of food products? Little do some people know, but there are many human, environment, and bee friendly options. While they may sound odd tons of these alternatives to pesticides can still be used efficiently and many may be found in your house already.
Vanilla repels mosquitoes, peppermint repels ants, and ultra-sonic sounds repel birds. You might be worried about these ultra-sonic sounds, but I assure you people do not hear them at all. If it still bothers you another options would be to net over the crops you planted. These are just a few things that can be used, there are many more. The point is that there are many ways to protect crops while not harming anything.
It is stated in “Alternatives to Using Pesticides” that Texas has been trying a new system for decreasing pesticide use since 1972. They have referred to this as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This system uses methods like crop rotation, trap crops, and organic farming. They basically takes these methods and many more biological, cultural, physical, and chemical methods to produce safer less hazardous ways of growing crops. In 1994 they took a survey of farmers using this system. 46% of this survey said they had produced more crops. 65% of those surveyed reported having a higher income. This system provided a $106 million increase in profits across the state of Texas. So not only was it more beneficial to the environment, but it was obviously more beneficial to the producers as well.
While most of today’s society is trying to push the blame towards companies like Monsanto and farmers, we need to realize that we take some of this blame as well. By us allowing this to happen and not taking a stand, and by not caring where our food comes from we are destroying our environment with the bee population included. Our community, and many others, are dependent on bees for many things we take for granted every day. What we fail to realize is the bees are dependent on us protecting them and allowing them to thrive as well.
In agreeing with Fowler’s article this has become a scary situation. She quotes the famous Albert Einstein in saying “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!” While there is speculation in him ever saying this, it is known that this is a wise statement. With figures around 60-70% loss in bee hive habitation on the East and West coasts of the US alone, not to mention the countless losses around Europe we are facing a very large problem.
As of 2013 there is nothing in place protecting the bees. There are organizations in place attempting to protect them they best they can. These organizations, such as American Honey Producers Association (AHPA), are currently trying to spread awareness. The only problem is with a membership of only around 400 members, they can’t do it alone. We should all do our best to help whether it is by telling other people, or making better selections in what we buy and eat. Our governments may not be fixing this but even one person’s decisions can help make a difference to not only bees, but to our future as well.
"Alternatives to Using Pesticides - Southern States." Southern States Cooperative - Farmer Owned Since 1923. Southern States, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Benson, Jonathan. "Scientists call for global ban on bee-killing pesticides." Natural health news. Natural News Network, 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
"Facts about Pesticides - Earth911.com." Earth911.com - Find Where and How to Recycle. Earth911.com, Inc., 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Fowler, Alisha. "Einstein on Bees « Global Climate Change." Global Climate Change. N.p., 20 Apr. 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Gucciardi, Anthony. "GMO AND THE DEVASTATION OF BEE COLONIES: Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm | Global Research." Global Research. Globalresearch.ca, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Mogerman, Josh. "NRDC: Press Release - EPA Buzz Kill: Is the Agency Hiding Colony Collapse Disorder Information?" Natural Resources Defense Council – The Earth’s Best Defense | NRDC. Natural Resources Defense Council, 18 Aug. 2008. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
"Monsanto." www.monsanto.com. Monsanto Company, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Oswaks, Molly. "Biotech Company Blamed for Bee Collapse Buys Leading Bee Research Firm." Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide. N.p., 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.