Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Headache on the Horizon

I'd never heard of Colony Collapse, and when Linda sent me a link on this subject, I thought it might be a little late to revisit Roanoke as a matter of current importance.  What I found, however, were articles on a world-wide decline in bee colonies that has agronomists worried.  It seems that Bayer makes more than aspirin.  In addition to I-don't-know-what-all else, they are the US producers of Clothianidin, a nicotinoid chemical for use on corn and canola seed to eradicate certain unwanted insects.  It is less than reassuring to read the EPA report that states Clothianidin has a "not-likely" human carcinogen rating.  It also states there is the potential for acute and/or chronic toxic effects for pollinators, i.e., bees, birds, and mammals.  (Funny, I thought humans were mammals.)  Is this why, in addition to the cold weather, that I've seen so few bees this year?  Kind of makes me wonder what the Environmental Protection Agency is protecting.  Big business springs to mind.

In Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," I learned that Monsanto, among other chemical companies, has genetically altered a large variety of seeds so that it is impossible for the plants to reproduce naturally, hence requiring the purchase of new, treated seeds each year.  "Heirloom" is a big buzz word in the natural food world.  There is a network of people who are trying to save the seeds from "OP" (open pollinator), nontreated vegetables and flowers so that the chemical companies won't take over completely.  However, if Bayer manages to eliminate the pollinators, it won't matter if the plant has been altered.

This is a very simplistic presentation, but hopefully it does provide food for thought regarding our food source.  We could be going the way of the dinosaurs, all in the name of Progress.  It's another example of "Just because a thing can be done, it doesn't mean it should be done."

Okay, I'm getting off the soapbox now.

PS:  Had to come back in to correct the title of Kingsolver's book, a big gaffe for which I apologize.  I urge all to read up on these subjects.  I'm not a conspiracist, but it is more than alarming to realize that our food sources are being manipulated without general knowledge.  According to the EPA testing was done on Clothianidin on mice, rats, dogs, and in nearly all cases, the reproductive systems were adversely affected, but, oh goody, the chemical didn't appear to cause cancer.  It isn't a great leap to project this result to humans.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.


Linda Cox said...

Brilliant connection between Bayer and Monsanto. I had not made that leap yet.

Kathryn said...

Unintended consequences on Bayer's part???? And TOTALLY intended consequences on Monsanto's part?? I don't know the nitty-gritty about Monsanto but enough to know I don't like what I hear. And I heard (but have not checked out the facts) that Haiti refused our chemically altered seeds after their earthquake? And my dad still comments that when DDT was used, Malaria was very low. Ah if only we could save the world!

Cally Kid said...

As a result of growing up and working on the fringe of agriculture, I've enjoyed staying informed of the past,present and future of this industry. After moving to Chico I became interested in, and grew, many heirloom vegetables which, until recently, could only be purchased online. I'm old enough to have opinions about "altered" food such as seedless varieties of grapes and melons for example. I prefer the older heirloom flavors that are getting harder and harder to find because the altered varieties are more uniform in size, usually produce higher yields and often have longer shelf life. All in exchange for quality. As have been pointed out, Monsanto is at the forefront of genetic alterations for "the good of mankind". Not in my opinion. A recent TV program discussed pending lawsuits by Monsanto to prevent the planting of, in this case corn, seeds that could reproduce. The claim is that Monsanto seeds are at risk because of this foul practice and they have far-reaching contracts for future (altered) seed sales. Last I heard Monsanto was winning the economically protectionist battle. Money talks. Let's google surf and find out more. I applaud the few who are trying to protect the future of heirlooms. As for the bees, Bo, you and I should invest in hives to help protect and increase our local bee populations while reaping the added benefits of better pollination.