Home > Death of the Bees : GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America
Death of the Bees : GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North Americaby Open-Publishing - Wednesday 26 March 2008
March 25, 2008
by Brit Amos
‘Commercial beehives pollinate over a third of [NorthAmerica’s crops and that web of nourishment encompasses everything from fruits like peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries and more, to nuts like California almonds, 90 percent of which are helped along by the honeybees. Without this pollination, you could kiss those crops goodbye, to say nothing of the honey bees produce or the flowers they also fertilize’.1
This essay will discuss the arguments and seriousness pertaining to the massive deaths and the decline of Bee colonies in North America. As well, it will shed light on a worldwide hunger issue that will have an economical and ecological impact in the very near future.
There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one argument that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and "Terminator Seeds" that are presently being endorsed by governments and forcefully utilized as our primary agricultural needs of survival. I will argue what is publicized and covered by the media is in actuality masking the real forces at work, namely the impact of genetically modified seeds on the reproduction of bee colonies across North America.
Genetically modified seeds are produced and distributed by powerful biotech conglomerates. The latter manipulate government agricultural policy with a view to supporting their agenda of dominance in the agricultural industry. American conglomerates such as Monsanto, Pioneer HiBred and others, have created seeds that reproduce only under certain conditions, often linked to the use of their own brands of fertilizer and/or insecticide.
The genetic modification of the plant leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the flower pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will potentially go malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on through the summer and over the winter hibernation process.
I will argue that the media’s publications distracts public opinion from the true cause which underlies the destruction of bee colonies. As such, outlined are four major arguments which the biotech conglomerates (which produce and market GMO seeds) have used to mislead the public regarding the demise of the bees. These arguments include Varroa mites, parasites, cell phones, and terminator seeds
Argument 1: Varroa mites2
Firstly, while there are some people who want to pin the blame on these mites, such views are unconvincing in that the argument does not make any sense because the main source of disease for these bees is intestinal disease. In fact, ‘many bee experts assumed Varroa mites were a major cause of the severe die-off in the winter of 2005. Yet when researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, traveled to Oakdale, California, where Anderson and a number of his fellow beekeepers spend winter and spring, they could find no correlation between the level of Varroa mite infestation and the health of bee colonies. ‘We couldn’t pin the blame for the die-off on any single cause,’ says Jeff Pettis, a research entomologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland,3 However, treatments against mites may be leaving hives open to the onslaught of powerful pathogens, much in the same way the overuse of antibiotics lead to super bugs in society today. What does that say about our future? We have learned that in the 1960’s and 1970’s, among other human ailments, DDT was a major cause of cancer in humans and animals; however, the substitution of such pesticides was a closely guarded secret. Unfortunately, the long term effects on the human population has yet to be understood as the compromise of the immune system may be happening quicker than we are ready to accept, even regarding the advent of super bugs. One can see that even this medical implication has severe economical implications.
Argument 2: Parasites
Secondly; Crops and even hedges, verges, and woodlands, and even where bees remain are sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. These chemicals are the practical extension of an exasperating belief that nature is our enemy. Pouring poison on our food is a very simplistic way of dealing with our problems however it ignores the root causes. “New genetically modified crops, designed to be immune to certain pesticides and herbicides, have resulted in the increased usage of these chemicals. Pesticides, particularly Bayer’s imidacloprid, a nicotine-based product marketed under the names Admire, Provado, Merit, Marathon, and Gaucho have been concretely implicated4 in the destruction of bee populations before (see also)5. The fact that other bees and insects are not raiding deserted hives to feed on the honey as they normally would lends some credence to the theory of a toxic overload. The toxic overload is certainly a concern, but wouldn’t it also need to be considered that this is systematic in the degeneration of the digestive process, such as in humans inability to digest preservatives and not absorb the enzymes to break down the foods eaten for survival?
Argument 3: cell phones
Thirdly, there was also a misconstrued study on cell phone radiation 6 and its effects on the bee’s ability to navigate which turned out to be an over-zealous unthinking reaction by an article in the Independent news. Some have also mentioned other navigational hindrances such as UV radiation, shifting magnetic fields and even quantum physics7 as a reason to the destruction of the bees.
There is certain implications to this theory, and it has been proven that electromagnetic radio wave lengths to affect the navigation of the bees. However the sun emits radiation spurts all the time, yet this has not offered a hindrance to the bees.
Argument 4: Terminator Seeds
Lastly, ‘Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Canada wants all governments to accept the testing and commercialization of “Terminator” crop varieties. These seeds are genetically engineered to produce only infertile seeds, which farmers cannot replant, also to mention that the bees that are trying to collect pollen, found to have their digestive tract diseases, such as amoeba and nosema disease’8. These diseases are mainly located in the digestive tract system. After studies of the autopsy, the most alarming trait is that the lower intestine and stinger have discolored to black vs. the normal opaque color, Synominus with colon cancer in humans.
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