Biotech company blamed for bee decline

Buys the lab that is proving that their corn is causing the decline in the bee population.

I seriously doubt Monsanto’s intentions are pure here at all.

This one is probably pretty relevant to Brad’s interests.

Could Genetically Modified food also cause “human colony collapse”?

GM labels, so consumer can voice opinions, can’t arrive soon enough.

I’d have to read some of the studies that the article links to in order to evaluate the scientific merit of some of the fears, but on its face there are some things about that article which just scream “bullshit”.

For instance, the article says this:

Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, states it quite plainly. It was a move to help Monsanto and other biotechnology giants squash competition and make profits. After all, who cares about public health?

“It is a concern from a competition standpoint,” Censky said in a telephone interview.

I was pretty skeptical of that quote, given it’s so short and has no context at all… let’s look at the actual source?

U.S. farmers worry they may be disadvantaged as countries such as Brazil approve new technologies faster, said Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association.

“It is a concern from a competition standpoint,” Censky said in a telephone interview.

So the OP’s article completely misrepresents what that quote is saying… The “competitive standpoint” here has nothing to do with the competitveness or profitability of the producer of the GM grain. It has to do with US farmers’ competitiveness, when competing with the farmers of other nations like Brazi, whose governments approve the use of that grain faster.

That kind of blatent misrepresentation makes me seriously question everything else about that article… Just looking quickly through the other sources, some of them are bullshitted up too, such as the link which says that GMO’s cause severe organ damage, but the actual study is concerning a suggestion that testing of GMO’s should be longer in order to rule out such things.

I just want the labels to say if GMOs were used. Seems simple enough to me. I eat a lot of organic as it is so I’m used to being choosy. Give me the choice to avoid GMOs.

Corn/maize is largely wind pollinated. While it is sometimes foraged by bees for pollen it’s of nutritionally little value compared to other crops. This smacks of anti GM dressed up as “won’t someone think of the bees” to me.

On a phone at the moment so excuse the brevity but blaming corn, GM or otherwise, for bee decline in isolation is just silly.

I dislike Monsanto on general principle because of the litigious and anti-competitive way they operate, but this article is a complete farce.

Sure. Buy locally from wild-growers…

Because, again, the same reasoning applies to every form of modern agricultural product. What are the health effects of hexaploid wheats? Er…well…

On the topic of bees, one of the more interesting hypothesis regarding why bees have been having problems lately is that it may be related to the current shifting of the earth’s magnetic field. Bees apparently use the magnetic field of the earth to navigate, and so some of the recent shifting of that field could be a major contributing factor to their dwindling numbers.

Except nothing really unusual has happened to that, Timex. The magnetic field shifts slightly all the time…

Actually, the earth is currently undergoing some magnetic fluctuations regarding it’s poles. It periodically flips its magnetic orientation, although I think some of the suggestions that it literally just “flips” are exaggerated. What scientists have noticed though, is that the movement of the north pole has accelerated recently, going from movement of around 10 km per year up to around 40 km per year.

There’s a bunch of stuff on the web about it, but this article from NASA talks about it a little bit.

Also, apparently, the field is currently weakening, and has been since we started measuring it in the 1800’s. It could be that this weakening is getting to the point where it affects bees.

Like I said, it’s not like “Fucking bees, how do they work? Magnets.” But it’s an interesting hypothesis.

Now I’ve had a chance to read the article, what a load of bollocks.

I originally assumed that it was going to be something to do with the recent “research” coming out of harvard where they laced High Fructose Corn Syrup with (eventually massive doses of) pesticides and fed it to bees on the basis that in 2006 there were pesticide residues in HFCS fed to bees which caused CCD. As far as I’m aware no lab has ever detected any pesticide residues in HFCS let alone at quantities that would affect bees.

If they’d suggested that tearing up wildflower meadows, orchards or fields of Canola to plant [GM] Maize was a cause then maybe I’d be somewhat less dismissive of the whole affair but blaming the pollen on the basis of unquoted, unlinked “research” is just stupid. You might just as well blame Coke for a rise in alcoholism on the basis that it’s wet, fizzy, comes in cans and bottles just like beer

Maize and wheat, both wind pollinated crops, are of near zero interest to most pollinators, let alone honey bees. Bees will forage maize if there’s pretty much nothing else available hence if they’d blamed a lack of diversity in favour of planting monsanto’s crops I’d have been more sympathetic to the argument but this is about as relevant as phone masts to the bee decline debate.

As for magnetic fields, I think it’s fairly poorly understood just how much influence they have, but honey bees have been around for about 20million years and the poles shift every 2-300,000 years. Most navigation is based on a combination of Gravity and the position of the sun.

Well sure, but nothing that unusual.

We can track the historic strength of the magnetic field by several means, and while it’s weakening it’s nowhere near many historic lows.

You say that, but even the article from the suspiciously named “Natural Society” doesn’t even make that bold claim. They just say that Monsanto bought a research lab that is investigating bee collapse and cite that Poland has banned GM crops because they may be affecting bee populations. What you say makes the move sound sinister, but even “natural society” don’t claim that, although they obviously insinuate it very strongly because well they clearly want to say that GM is evil whether or not they have any evidence.

You guys are probably right, there is a lot of anti-genetic hysteria.

That said, I just find a company buying the lab that is criticizing them to be kinda crony capitalism, and the bee thing was a bit of a honeypot as is.

The only problem I have with GMO’s is the roundup ready crops. Roundup is never completely gone at the molecular levels and the increasing amounts farmers are using on crops is frightening. Now GMO’s that transplant natural insect repellence into other crops, or genes that help crops survive drought I’m all for and have no problem eating.

But I do NOT, want to be eating crops doused with insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides.

Ya, one of the reasons why I like the idea of GMO crops, is that I’d rather have plants with a TINY bit of insecticide inside them, preventing the need to spray them with it… But I’m not really a fan of making crops resistant to poisons like round-up, so that you can spray MORE of it on them.

I don’t really want to eat round-up.

That’s systemic Pesticides (neonicotinoids) rather than GMO. There is a trial going on somewhere trying to get wheat to give off Aphid alarm pheromones.

I don’t remember if it was wheat (probably) but I have seen a story on something like that. Where the plant itself would repel bugs.

While i really dislike Monsanto and think they are ultimately trying to gain control of all our ability to grow natural free food etc, the article seems a bit ropey. I come from a bee keeping family, i may soon get some bees for the first time also.

Anyway here are a bunch of more likely links that are associated with the current bee issue:

And while GM is definitely not safe tech to be experimenting with in the wild (and may be being pushed to control food production), and we should all be demanding GM labels on food so we can avoid it etc, I’m not sure the GM debate can really be tied up to the bee problem, as in the varrora and virus issue that is causing colony collapse etc.

CCD remains a phenomena unique to the USA and is still poorly understood. Everything from climate change to pesticides in isolation or combination have been put forward as reasons.

Since the ‘plight of the bees’ every campaigner under the sun has tried to pin their cause onto bee decline.

Pesticides and GM have met with more success than most and the anti GM brigade managed, briefly, to get pollen classed as an ingredient of honey which meant everyone would have to label it “may contain GM pollen” unless it was expensively tested, each batch, and proven that the pollen wasn’t GM. Thankfully common sense prevailed and that’s been overturned.

The pesticide debate rumbles on, but on current evidence I’ll take neonicotinoids as the least worst option though there are some worrying lab studies that so far no one has been able to replicate under field conditions.

Personally, for honeybees, and ignoring mani believe the biggest problem remains Varroa and the viruses it vectors especially in combination with nosema ceranae, another relatively recently recognised disease (as opposed to Nosema Apis)

Additional pests like small hive beetle and tropilaelaps certainly don’t help but don’t pose the same challenges in my opinion.

Interestingly if you delve a little deeper behind the “bees are dying” stories it looks currently like overall bee decline is pretty much limited to the northern hemisphere generally and largely to Russia and the USA, pretty much everywhere else there is an increase in managed colonies going on and has been for the past decade.

When I started winter colony losses in the UK were around 30% a year, last year it was 15%. a normal, pre varroa year’s losses of around 10% was considered normal.

After the summer the UK experienced I’m expecting to see a jump in winter losses this year.