Welcome to “Tom’s Corner,” a blog about bee decline by Tom Theobald, founding member of the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association. In July 2010 Theobald wrote an article about clothianidin and bees for Bee Culture magazine that ignited a conversation about the connection between systemic pesticides and declining bee populations in the United States. Timeline here:
Click to listen to Tom Theobald’s interview on Bee Culture’s “Beekeeping Today” podcast
I did a “Beekeeping Today” podcast for Kim Flottum and Bee Culture last week and it just came out, The Problem with Neonicotinoids. It traces my involvement with the neonic issue from the beginning up to the present and it is filled with information. It starts with my article in Bee Culture in July of 2010, which many of you have probably already read. The interview is long, 45 minutes, but listen to the whole thing to get the full benefit.
Dave Goulson is one of the most articulate voices we have on the issues of environmental poisoning with pesticides. Take a few minutes and watch this video interview of Professor Goulson. As important as the bees are, the environmental damage spreads far and wide through the environment beyond the bees.
In part, it is a strong critique of the Obama task force on pollinator losses. The task force sounded like a good idea at first, and it was, but it was derailed either intentionally or through naivete by putting the EPA and the USDA in charge. This is like putting burglars in charge of a task force investigating home break-ins. The task force report almost completely ignored the major player in the monumental bee losses – the neonicotinoid family of pesticides. Why is this? My view is that it was these two agencies that were instrumental in the decisions which led to what may be the most massive poisoning of the environment in the history of humanity, and they want to be darn sure you don’t find that out.
Seed treatment is another topic. Ninety percent of neonic use is as seed treatments, and of that 90% only about 5% actually goes into the plant, the rest goes into the soil and groundwater where it poisons the environment widely and for years. Yet seed treatment goes unrecorded and unregulated because the EPA does not consider it “a pesticide use”, excluding it under the ruse of The Treated Articles Exemption.
The reason farmers must use these products and pay a premium price is because the chemical companies have monopolized the seed business. The farmers buy whatever the corporations choose to sell them, whether they need the neonics or not, and in most cases they don’t This is marketing, not agronomy. The neonicotinoids are billion dollar products for the chemical companies because the billions of dollars in environmental damage they cause go unaccounted for – you and I pat that price in the loss of our common asset, a healthy environment.