Saturday 25 July 2015

Albert Einstein and the bees : Ignore the science and give in to the chemical industry

Native black bees in Kilchoan far from oilseed rape and neonicotinoids 
Bees and bee colonies are dying at an alarming rate and this has lead to journalists (even in the Daily Telegraph) quoting Einstein; "If bees disappeared man would only have four years to live". Its doubtful if Albert ever did say this but there is some truth to it. About one third of global agricultural output depends on pollination by bees, these crops supply about 35% of our calories and many of our minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

The UK government has just lifted the EU wide ban on neonicotinoid seed dressings to control flea beetle in  oilseed rape crops, despite  overwhelming scientific evidence that this stuff does affect bees. Its a political decision ignoring the science. Perhaps that's why they haven't published the minutes of the latest UK Pesticide Safety Committee meeting. Could be that the discussion didn't suit the chemical industry and the NFU.

Our bees here in Lochaber are safe enough its when they are foraging in oilseed rape crops that the bees are poisoned. It seems that any species that ingests oilseed rape tissue, pollen or nectar is susceptible. According to one credible scientific source it only takes 5 maize seeds treated with neonics  to kill a partridge.

Lab experiments  have shown that the bee's ability to navigate and find its way back to the hive is damaged by these chemicals. There is an important principle at stake here; The "Precautionary Approach" it means we should assume that there will be damaging side effects of new technology and it should therefore be thoroughly screened, tested and evaluated for environmental safety.

It seems that the pursuit of profit at any environmental cost is compromising the UK Government's obligation to keep us safe and the environment healthy.   Members of the Pesticide Safety Committee might consider resignation en masse in protest.  But of course they won't!

Without the Pesticide Safety Committee's work we would still be using dieldrin and DDT ,nerve gas derivatives, to control parasites of sheep while poisoning wildlife and Shepherds.

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