Skip to comments.A Mysterious Killer of Honeybees Threatens Our Food Supply
Posted on 05/08/2007 4:25:15 PM PDT by dvan
Albert Einstein once said, If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. Why? Because without bees, plants dont get pollinated. Without pollination, say goodbye to fruit, nuts, and some vegetables. We also wont have natural oils (such as olive oil, sunflower oil, hemp oil, etc.). And we dont have many natural fibers, such as cotton.
You can see how important the bee is to our livelihood and existence. Some economists say the bee is worth about $14 billion to our economy.
Thats why I was so alarmed to read the latest statistics from the American Beekeeper Federation. According to their latest report, theres been an unexplained collapse of beehives in the country, with entire colonies being wiped out.
During the last three months of 2006, we began to receive reports from commercial beekeepers of an alarming number of honey bee colonies dying in the eastern United States, says Maryann Frazier, apiculture extension associate at Penn State University. While the problem didnt start last year its been going on for several years it is getting progressively worse. And its not limited to the East Coast any more.
Since the beginning of the year, she continued, beekeepers from all over the country have been reporting unprecedented losses. The losses are staggering: one beekeeper lost 11,000 of his 13,000 colonies; another 700 of 900; another 2,500 of 3,500; another virtually all of his 10,000. The problem is so large, beekeepers are starting to wonder if their industry can survive.
Frazier calls the die off Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. What could be causing CCD? Dennis van Engelsdorp is acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. He says, Preliminary work has identified several likely factors that could be causing or contributing to [the die off]. Among them are mites and associated diseases, some unknown pathogenic disease and pesticide contamination or poisoning.
In other words, they dont know whats killing the bees. Theres an unknown killer of honeybees that threatens the nations entire food supply. Yes, pesticides, disease, and mites probably play a role. But theres an underlying cause of CCD that nobodys willing to talk about. It can lead directly to the death of the bees. Or it can weaken the bees enough that they are more susceptible to the pesticides, disease, and mites. Let me explain.
Weve see evidence of a die off here in California. We have some very nice, mature peach and plum trees in our backyard. When I first moved to California in 2001, these trees produced wonderful fruit every year.
But something strange began in my third year here. The larger of the two peach trees did not fruit at all. And the plums soon petered out as well. The trees looked healthy, but I was mystified. They had produced awesome displays of blossoms in the spring. Why didnt they fruit out? I wondered.
As I write this, its early spring, and the trees are in full bloom. But somethings missing. Ive gone out for hours each day and the bees that should be prancing in the pollen just arent there! Last year, our mature olive tree produced only one olive, in contrast to buckets of olives two years before. My neighbor also has fruit trees. He told me hes seeing the same thing. We should have bees all over our property right now, he told me. This year, none.
Afraid we would lose an entire year of fruit production, I went into the Santa Rosa farmers market to ask for some help from a local beekeeper and honey distributor. He said his bees had not suffered nearly as much as everyone elses.
Whats the difference? I asked. He said, most beekeepers feed their bees a sugar water syrup, but I dont feed mine that.
Heres the rub: Sugar water nowadays means high fructose corn syrup. And nearly 100% of non-organic corn is genetically modified (GM)!
Most genetically modified corn contains Bt genes. Bt is a pesticide. Its gene is inserted into corn DNA so the corn can produce Bt to kill bugs that eat the corn.
But this couldnt explain the widespread loss of bees. Not all beekeepers feed their bees. And bees dont pollinate corn. So all of them arent dying from genetically modified corn or corn sweetener.
What about flowering plants they do visit, such as cotton? The Bangkok Post on November 17, 1997 reported some worrisome news. Some 30% of bees in the vicinity of a trial of Bt cotton in Thailand died.
Picking up on this, a leading German zoologist conducted a four-year study on bees picking up pollen from genetically modified rapeseed (aka canola oil). Professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz then examined the microorganisms in the intestinal tubes of the young bees. He found that when the bee ingested the alien gene, the gene that was in the pollen was transferred to bacteria living inside its gut.
His quote is alarming: The results indicate that we must assume that changes take place in the intestinal tubes of people and animals. The crossover of microorganisms takes place and peoples make-up in terms of micro-organisms in their intestinal tract is changed. This can therefore have health consequences (emphasis added).
But its not just vague health consequences. It can have deadly consequences, as were seeing with the bees.
And the problem is only going to get worse. I was talking to a local beekeeper named Glenn, who came over to help my neighbor and us pollinate our trees. Glenn told me of the bitter fight the local beekeepers had with the agribusiness interests over genetically modified organisms (GMO). The Big Agri company Monsanto had bamboozled the farm owners into believing that they couldnt compete without GMO. The beekeepers told the farmers that their farms might go under if the bees were wiped out. Monsanto still won.
The split was divisive between the sides. The bad blood caused the beekeepers to vacate their business offices that they had previously shared with the farm owners. In a subsequent election, I was shocked when conscientious Sonoma County voted to permit GM crops. We were deluged with mailings from Monsanto interests.
Glenn believes its a combination of new things that are weakening the gene pool of the bees. Bees never had experienced pesticides and GM-associated substances before. Feral (wild) bees tend to be very hardy creatures. But were now seeing them disappear as well.
Glenn referred me to fellow beekeeper and former Sonoma Beekeeper Association President Kathy Cox. She echoed the same message. Commercial beekeepers use chemicals in their hives. As a result, bees are facing a threat they have never seen before. Kathy told me, My associate, Scott Nelson reported, In the four county area (Napa, Mendocino, Marin, and Sonoma), Mendocino beekeepers have reported the fewest problems with their hives. Mendocino County voted for a GMO ban in 2004. The county actually defeated Monsanto, which spent megabucks to try to defeat the proposition.
Kathy says that bees require a protein-rich diet, as found in pollen. GMO can derange their immune systems with a cascade of proteins theyve never before encountered. The changes can wreak havoc on their bodies and the hives.
All Ive discussed in this issue is the pesticide Bt. But there are other GMO agents in pollen that are foreign to the bees. Any one of them could weaken their immune systems. They could become vulnerable to almost anything, including the mites researchers know are ravaging some hives.
Are we facing a collapse of our food production thanks to the destruction of our friendly pollinators? I cant tell you for sure that GM crops are killing all of the honey bees. Its possible there are other factors. But I can tell you the GM crops are a major contributor to the problem. And we just dont know how widespread it will become. Seeing the problem firsthand and knowing its happening around the country has me downright scared.
If its half as bad as it sounds, its not just our backyard that will be barren. Your supermarket and refrigerator will be barren as well. I predict that GMO will make the Vioxx scandal seem puny. (Merck deliberately allowed tens of thousands to die by Vioxx knowing its harm to the circulation system.)
I believe that GM crops are the greatest threat to our planet that we have ever seen. I fear a calamity of Biblical proportions may be in its early stages. I hope that I am wrong. But I hope you see how important this is.
Years ago, scientists from all over the world urged all governments to suspend all environmental releases of GM crops and to ban patents on organisms, seeds, and cell lines. If you still have doubts of the crisis, please visit the website www.i-sis.org.uk/list.php. Also see www.seedsofdeception.com. You wont have any more doubts.
I urge you to contact your elected officials and demand an immediate moratorium on planting GM crops until it can be proven that friendly insect populations arent disrupted by GMO. Demand that all GM crops be so labeled on store shelves. Please buy organic only. Tell Monsanto how you feel by withholding your dollars from all their products. DO NOT consume any non-organic corn products (chips, tortillas, etc.) or processed items made with corn sweetener (high fructose corn syrup). You could ingest the transforming Bt gene. I eat out less and less. And when I do, I attempt to frequent only organic restaurants.
I also think legislation must be passed holding corporations and their stockholders financially and legally responsible for all damages that result from escape of their patented genes. After all, if they can receive the benefit of riches from a patent for their deeds, they should also have the duty to pay the piper when problems come up.
If I were to inadvertently poison you, I would be held criminally responsible. And so should they! If my dog were to escape and bite you, I would be responsible. When their pollen escapes and/or bites my field or kills my bees, should not their patented gene profits pay for it? If Monsanto stockholders knew that they could be personally responsible for your death when you become a Bt factory, we will suddenly see a newfound consciousness.
I do assure you problems are coming, whether its the end of honeybees or a parallel GMO calamity. (I wish Albert Einstein were alive today. I have no doubt he would travel to Washington to warn of the impending calamity, as he did regarding Nazi atomic research.)
Please join me in this fight for our food. Call your Congressman, Senator, and state representatives today! The easiest way to contact your representatives is to visit the websites www.house.gov/writerep/ (for the House) and www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/ senators_cfm.cfm (for the Senate). Both allow you to search (by zip code in the case of the House) for your representatives. They give phone numbers and addresses for both DC and local offices. They have web forms you can fill out and send for easy contact. And you can even schedule an appointment with some. If you dont have a computer, please borrow a friends or visit your local library. The librarian can help you find these web pages. Its vital you do this today!
Ref: American Beekeeping Federation online, February 2007.
This is what I first thought of when I heard about the bees dying. I have seen several in my yard lately, though.
Not to make light of a very serious situation, but can’t the Dems pass a law or something?
“This is a serious problem that requires immediate action.”
This is hysteria.
No, he didn't.
And any article that begins by blatantly demonstrating the author's lack of research skill and allergy to fact checking is not worth reading.
But I digress...
I am only asking, not specualting, just asking a question: Could the changing of the structure of foods be a cause? I am thinking GMO’s and the like.
“This is what I first thought of when I heard about the bees dying. I have seen several in my yard lately, though.”
If I were you I’d become a bee expert real fast and get really really rich.
Famines, Wars, earthquakes.....all signs of End Times.
OK, it is time for the Pollen Tax.
I missed the answer, but have it know
This is one thing some of the European socialist nations have right, compared to the United States.
I've only seen Bumble Bees and wasps so far this year.
I beg to differ. This die off started at least a year ago. In certain areas it has been huge and growing.
If we lose a significant portion of the bee population, how do you propose we pollinate our crops?
Rush brought this up weeks ago and he took it seriously until hearing that it was baseless.
I wonder when it will get to the point where they’ll want people like you to report bee sightings.
They think they may have narrowed down the cause to a parasite or virus. Hopefully they will learn quickly how to combat the problem.
Whoever figures this one out isn’t ever going to have to worry about their retirement.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.