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Neonicotinoids: A Billion Dollar Industry!
There has been a huge debate over the impact of Neonicotinoids, which are a class of systemic pesticides with a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. Neonicotinoids are often applied as seed treatments. This basically means that the seeds are coated before planting occurs. Neonicotinoids also generate billions of dollars for the agro-chemical companies that manufacture these chemicals and are available not only for agricultural applications but also can be found in a myriad of garden products available all over the world.
In a new Avaaz petition, pollinator advocates demand that AMAZON stops selling Bayer’s Bee-Killing Garden pesticides.
Too Big To Ban?
As the peer-reviewed, independent scientific evidence mounts from reputable scientists around the world that neonicotinoids are the cause of global honeybee decline, the industry still claims that they are not to blame. The industry also argues that without these systemic pesticides, agriculture will suffer, resulting in crop failure. Similar to the big banking conglomerates and other industries that are “too big to fail”, are neonicotinoids the next to join this lineup?
During this interview, Walter Haefeker, President of the Professional European Beekeeper’s Association, stated, “I think there is a big parallel, this agricultural disaster, that they are producing, is very similar to the banking crisis. Where we all know what mistakes were made but nothing is being done about it and the argument is, they are too big to fail and their executives are too important to prosecute. So in the case of neonics, the situation is that the industry is claiming our products are ‘too big to ban’.
This is certainly unacceptable to the beekeeping community and should also be unacceptable to anybody caring about pollinators, songbirds and a healthy environment, in general. You have to also keep in mind that their compilation of the all of the negative economic effects of the ban basically assumes that there is no other way to do agriculture but there is plenty of evidence that smart farmers can work without these products.
In Italy, before they instituted their neonicotinoid ban, they commissioned a study and they not only looked into the impacts that they found on the honeybees but also part of the study was to try to grow corn (which was the main crop that was causing problems there) so they tried to grow corn without neonicotinoids and they did a side by side comparison. The loss in yield was basically non-existent. The corn production in Italy, after they did their local ban, actually increased! So, some of this is just scare tactics.
Certainly farmers for certain crops would have to learn a few new tricks or do some crop rotation. We might have a little more diversity in agriculture afterwards but there are plenty of good reasons to do that anyway.
One of the arguments is that these products are essential, for the current farming economy. Farmers have to have these products available. There are certain crops where no other approved insecticide is available therefore they are assuming that if you take these insecticides away, farmers will suffer severe economic losses.”
“Sustainable Intensification”- The New Industry Buzz Word!
When I asked Walter Haefeker to explain what the industry’s new buzz word “sustainable intensification” all about, here was his response:
“I first learned about this at an event (Syngenta sponsored event) in Brussels. Right now, they (industry) are trying to convince politicians around the world that the world population is exploding. We are going to have to feed 9 or 10 billion people in a few decades. The way to do that is to use the available resources, land and water, even more intensively. Since everybody already understands that we’re probably already going too far with this intensification, they have found a new buzz word for what they want to do and this is called ‘sustainable intensification.’
When I first hear it, it reminded me of “clean coal”. It is essentially an oxy-moron. It is also not what a major UN effort a few years ago came up with when they were asked to come up with way to feed the growing world population. There is a world agricultural report that came to very different conclusions than what the industry is pushing right now. “
Listen To The Interview:
In this special series called “The Neonicotinoid View”, hosts June Stoyer and guest co-host, Tom Theobald will be joined by the President of the Professional Beekeeper’s Association, Walter Haefeker to discuss “The Value of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment in the European Union”. Please listen to the interview below. You can also subscribe to our feed directly by clicking here or on iTunes by clicking here.