Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bee Updated- Act Now!

I received an email today (2/2/11) from Her Majesty's Government that the petition I signed last year to ask the Prime Minister to ban the use of Neonicotinoid insecticides in crops grown within the United Kingdom was unsuccessful. The petition was signed by 1,051 people and stated that:

a plethora of recent studies from Italy, Germany, America etc. are implicating Neonicotinoid insecticides (an insect nerve poison) in causing sub-lethal and lethal affects to honeybee's exposed to plants grown from seeds coated in Neonicotinoid insecticide or treated with Neonicotinoid insecticide - typically maize, sunflower and rapeseed - these sublethal effects, affect the bee's ability to orient itself and return to the colony; additionally it is likely the detrimental effects are compounded synergistically as the bee is weakened and becomes more susceptible to natural disease, parasitic fungi and parasites such as varroa destructor - implicated in the world wide colony collapse disorder we are currently experiencing. Neonicitinoid insecticides have recently been banned in other European countries and are being reviewed in the US - home of the corporations pushing these systemic insecticides.

What’s the harm?

Neonicotinoids are synthetic chemicals which act on a specific neural pathway of the central nervous system. The effects are more prevalent in insects, but the chemical is non-discriminating. It is not just something that is added to a few industrially grown crops, but commonly used by gardeners, and even for house plants!

Available neonicotinoid insecticides include:

Acetamiprid: intended to control sucking insects on crops such as leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, pome fruits, grapes, cotton, cole crops, and ornamental plants.

Clothianidin: is absorbed by plants and then released in pollen and nectar to kill pests.

Dinotefuran: for control of insect pests such as aphids, whiteflies, thrips, leafhoppers, leafminers, sawflies, mole cricket, white grubs, lacebugs, billbugs, beetles, mealybugs, and cockroaches on leafy vegetables, in residential and commercial buildings, and for professional turf management.

Imidacloprid: sold in UK as Provado, Ultimate Bug Killer.

Nitenpyram: an insecticide used in agriculture and veterinary medicine to kill insect external parasites of livestock and pets.

Thiacloprid: developed by Bayer CropScience for use on agricultural crops to control a variety of sucking and chewing insects, primarily aphids and whiteflies.  In Provado, Ultimate Bug Killer in B&Q.

Thiamethoxam: developed by Syngenta but a patent dispute arose with Bayer. They were fighting over who will be responsible for the death of life on earth!

Bayer is the primary manufacturer. (Is this the sort of company you are happy to trust your precious health to?) Neonicitinoids are also made by Aventis CropSciences, Takeda Chemical Industries and Mitsui Chemicals.

Garden centres, farm suppliers, online outlets and DIY stores sell these products which ANYBODY can buy.

I rang my local garden centre this afternoon and was kindly informed that there is no indication on the Provado insecticides label of the active ingredient. However, there is a warning that it should not be sprayed when the flowers are in bloom because it is harmful to bees! The label on the product that is made for indoor and outdoor use also advises that the spray may be harmful to fish, pets and children.

My common sense tells me that an insecticide is bound to have negative effects on insects. Since bees are an insect, it seems logical to me that Neonicitinoid must be having some sort of negative effect on bees that are exposed it. Prince Charles put it matter of factly in his book Harmony when he said “[g]iven that bees, like nearly every other bug, are insects, I would have thought it was rather obvious, yet we carry on with this narrow-minded, mechanistic approach to industiralized farming with our focus only on high yields at whatever price, lacing the fields with pesticides that kill insects while being told that they do not affect bees.” And adding insult to injury, many people use insecticides in their gardens and homes.

Obviously, the UK Government needs a little more persuading to protect us from this poison and Avaaz is providing another opportunity. They have a petition which over one million people have already signed. Please act now and add your signature too:

Either that or get your feather dusters out and be ready for a little hand pollination duty (like they already do in China).