Bayer pesticide seal of approval stings BRITAIN'S beekeepers
Posted: July 16th, 2009 - 5:14pm
Why is the Bee Keepers' Association endorsing a pesticide that its members believe is responsible for the deaths of honeybees?
Pesticides called neonicotinoids are widely implicated in the deaths of honeybees across the world. Their use has been restricted in France, Germany and Italy. The Co-op banned their use in its products and last week, the Soil Association in Britain launched a petition to get them banned.
So it is a shock to discover that the British Bee Keepers' Association (BBKA), a charity in its 135th year, is receiving money from one of the main manufacturers of the allegedly bee-killing brew, Bayer Crop Sciences, and endorsing some of its products as "bee-friendly". It comes as slightly less of a shock to find that many of its members are badly stung and campaigning against by the link-up.
Neonicotinoids come in a number of varieties, such as Bayer's clothianidin, banned in France and Germany from last year. The evidence against them is not proven. But, in 2004, the US government's Environmental Protection Agency allowed clothianidin to go on sale to farmers, noting that it could be toxic to honey bees and other pollinators through leaving residues in nectar and pollen. And its permission was conditional on Bayer supplying research data to back up its claim that the chemical was safe for bees.
But, despite a widely reported crisis in US bee colonies since, no data have ever been published and campaigners at the Natural Resources Defense Council recently went to court to get their release, assuming they exist.
A spokesperson for Bayer Crop Sciences said; "If misused, or used inappropriately, clothanidin will affect bees – that is why it is used as a seed treatment so that bees are not exposed to concentrations that will have any effect on them."