As good as this article from Civil Eats is, As Bees Die Off, the EPA Shuffles Its Feet, there are some mistakes. The most serious is that we still let the criminals define the vocabulary we use, and we continue to talk in ‘pounds’ as if that was an accurate measure of pesticide use.
Three million pounds of neonics on corn, another million on soybeans, looks pretty good when compared to the year of highest usage for DDT, eighty million pounds in 1959. Four million pounds of neonics, what’s all the fuss about?
Well, what’s missed is the fact that those four million pounds of neonicotinoids have the toxic equivalence of about fifteen billion pounds of DDT. And if that isn’t mind boggling enough, consider that only 5% of the actual usage is accounted for. Seed treatment, the focus of the lawsuit just filed against the EPA, represents 95% of the use. Add that in, multiply by a conservative five thousand (neonicotinoids are five to ten thousand times more toxic than DDT to lower level life forms) and we have the toxic equivalence of approximately 300 billion pounds of DDT, every year, year after year. This is the agricultural use, you can probably add in another 100 billion for urban and suburban use.
And in the face of this massive environmental poisoning what do we get from the EPA? Excuses, cover ups, evasions and sleight of hand. After twenty years of carnage and millions of colonies lost they conclude that neonicotinoids ‘may’ harm bees. Do they go to the law to better understand their responsibilities? Hardly.They go to the law instead to find a way to avoid those very responsibilities, and in all likelihood were complicit in the creation of those loopholes in the first place. Rather than revisit their failed decision making they instead have to be sued to get them to do their job.