Bad for Bees: EPA Bows to Bayer

Tom Philpot at Grist, www.grist.org, continues to contribute excellent reporting on food and pharm corporations.

These businesses and their federal regulators regularly undermine public health and safety. A recent example is Philpot’s December 10, 2010, column: “Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags.”

The family of pesticides derived from nicotine, neonicotinoids, comprise a relatively new toxic experiment let loose in the countryside. Neonicotinoids have been shown to severely damage the health of honeybees, and much evidence points to pesticides as key to the complexities of the colony collapse disorder that is decimating many beehive populations.

Now another of these pesticides has been infiltrated into the nation’s conventional food supply. The recently leaked document shows that, despite protests from some its own scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency allowed introduction of a new pesticide, clothianidin, into seeds for our biggest crop, corn. Now the pesticide’s residue is everywhere in corn country – and in the honeybees.

The owner of this new pesticide? Bayer, one of the biggest of food/pharmaceutical corporations.

The internal report from the EPA’s dissenting scientists was leaked to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald by Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network of North America. Philpot details how the document shows the EPA gave its conditional and then unconditional approval for use of clothianidin without public scrutiny and by using a bogus study from Bayer. The EPA even refused to release that study until a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by the National Resources Defense Council.

It’s a story of corporate government in action, facilitating the continuing destruction of the ecology and our chances for survival. Yet surely pollinators are at least as important for our future as pesticides.

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