U.S. caves into lobbyists over massive bee deaths
Sierra Club, June 10 2008
Contact: Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club
*U.S.D.A. caves into lobbyists over massive bee deaths while Germany takes a major step to keep their pollinators pollinating crops*
In light of the mounting evidence that new seed chemical coatings are deadly to bees and the action of Germany to call for an immediate suspension of these seed treatments, the Sierra Club today reaffirmed its call for a U.S. moratorium on specific chemical treatments to protect our bees and crops, until more study can be done.
Recently Germany's federal agricultural research institute noted, "It can unequivocally be concluded that poisoning of the bees is due to the rub-off of the pesticide ingredient clothianidin from corn seeds."
At issue are the neonicotinoids, including clothianidin, being used in a new way - as seed coatings.
For years, farmers have been spraying neonicotinoids onto their crops to stop insect infestation. Now Bayer and Monsanto have acquired patents to coat their proprietary corn seeds with these neonicotinoids.
"Part of the equation in the U.S. is genetically engineered corn, as more and more corn seeds are being gene spliced with a completely different species - a bacteria," said Walter Haefeker, of the German Beekeepers Association Board of Directors. "Bayer and Monsanto recently entered into agreements to manufacture neonicotinic-coated genetically engineered corn. It's likely that this will worsen the bee die-off problem."
David Hackenburg, former president of the American Beekeeping Federation, has been urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to do more study. "Look at what's time based. The massive bee decimation started when regulatory agencies rubber stamped the use of neonicotinoid spraying and coating," he said.
"Sierra Club joins the concern of beekeepers," said Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee Chair. "It's unfortunate that regulatory agencies are using double speak. They claim to protect our food supply - yet they aren't doing the proper studies. The loss of honeybees will leave a huge void in the kitchens of the American people and an estimated loss of 14 billion dollars to farmers. We expect the U.S.D.A. to do their job. We call for a precautionary moratorium on these powerful crop treatments to protect our bees and our food."