Bees Don't Need This Poncho

Bees Don't Need This Poncho

So it turns out that for the last few years, while we have all been scrambling to find the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder, and blaming everything from cell phones to the modern industrialized nature of bee husbandry, the EPA had knowingly approved a bee poison for use on crops.

Isn't the EPA a government agency designed to prevent this kind of thing from happening?  From killing all the bees with a bee poison?  Isn't that why it's called the Environmental PROTECTION Agency, instead of (say) the Environmental Destructo Agency?

In a whistleblower leak worthy of Wikileaks itself, an EPA employee has leaked documentation to the effect that the EPA knew that Bayer's pesticide clothiandin (sold under the brand name "Poncho") would kill bees.  But they approved it anyway, even though it has been banned for use in many European countries (because it kills bees).

Poncho is sprayed on seeds, to prevent them from being eaten by insects.  When the seed germinates and turns into a plant, the plant absorbs the Poncho and eventually expresses it through its pollen.  You know; the stuff that bees go around collecting and eating. 

Poncho is most often used to pre-treat corn seeds before planting, although it's also used on "canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat."  Unfortunately, these are all crops which bees like to frequent.  Sales of Poncho have been brisk, raking in a sales figure of $262 million in 2009. 

In the classic example of Colony Collapse Disorder, a hive of bees heads out to forage one day, and just never comes back.  The most likely scenario, we now know, is that the bees all converge on a field which has been sprayed with Poncho.  And then they die.

Bayer's pesticide has been responsible for millions of bee deaths, but Bayer cares not.  In Germany, Poncho was linked to the deaths of 11,500 bee colonies since the spring of 2008.  This devastation is what led Germany to ban the pesticide.

Our country recently ruled that a corporation can legally act as a person.  What kind of person makes $262 million in profits on a pesticide that they know is killing bees?  That can only be sold in the United States because a government agency looked the other way?  That has been banned in many other countries for having killed bees?  Clearly, Bayer is a psychopath.  Would that this were an unusual situation.

The EPA actually raised some suspicions about Poncho back in 2003.  But their suspicions were allayed in part by a "botched" Bayer toxicity test, in which the control and the Poncho-dipped crops were planted practically side by side.  Talk about a fox running the hen house!  How can the EPA possibly expect to get decent results out of studies which are funded by the companies producing the product?

This is the kind of thing that drives me into the arms of the conspiracy theorist circles.  There's so much arguing and strife between Liberals and Tea Partiers, between Rush Limbaugh and Jon Stewart, MSNBC and Fox… but you know what?  It's gigantic faceless corporations like Bayer that are the real enemy.  When will we stop fighting amongst ourselves, and take on the real threat?

Photo copyright Fox/Matt Groening