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The Real Dirt on Pesticides and Bee Death

By Terry Oxford

How did we lose in just one hundred years what it took billions of years to evolve? Reports from across the globe show a 75% decline in flying insects. Birdless skies are becoming more common. We hear deafening silence in the springtime when our skies should be vibrating with insects and birds.

Recent reports show the usage of pollinator killing pesticides in farming is 48 times more toxic than in previous decades. American farmland has become a chemical soup.

Photo: Millions of flowering trees are raised in monoculture conditions and sold to cities and townships, landscape professionals and to retail. By a certain age, most of these saplings have been treated before sale with a neonic and/or a fungicide. One tree in California tested at 862 ppb.  Less than 20 ppb is enough to kill a honeybee.

The Chemical Industry has Weaponized Flowers

There is no safe dose of a systemic poison such as neonicotinoids, the most commonly used class of pesticides. Most people don't know that these powerful neuro-toxins are delivered to the pollinator in their food source...nectar and pollen which are carbohydrate and protein to a bee. The bee comes in for some food and gets a dose of poison. The poison manufacturers have figured out how to make flowers deadly to bees. They've weaponized flowers!

These massive losses of the insect kingdom reveal that the agrochemicals we’ve been assured are safe, are not.

How did we arrive at croplands and landscapes too poisonous to support soil life, insect life and bird life? Who is culpable? Who oversaw and allowed this stunning abuse of the planet and
human life? Who is responsible for such an unspeakable crime? And who benefited financially from the catastrophe that is Conventional Monoculture? Neonics are not just used in corn and soy. They are ubiquitous in the ornamental flowering tree nursery industry and used in extremely high doses in saplings. In the US, 100% of citrus trees are pre-treated with these
long-lasting pesticides that, because are in all internal systems of the tree or plant, do not wash off. The poison is released in each spring time bloom creating billions and billions of poisonous flowers, year after year.


To be sure, the problem is the ever-increasing control the poison industry has over our food infrastructure. But it wasn’t just Bayer/Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF and Dow.  These corporations couldn’t have done this much damage all on their own. Deconstruct where we are right now and look back in time. You’ll see the chemical industry used an entire Army of Food and Agriculture Institutions; its lobbyists, Regulators, Legislators, Politicians and Academics. All lent their credibility to normalize poison in our food. They made us believe our landscape and crops were safe. And none with more effect than the white-coated Academics of the Public University Entomology Departments. To this day they argue over the correct dose of poison and maintain their safety instead of deliberately and bravely calling out their harm to all life.

If we do the hard work to learn from History we have a better chance of a different Future.

In EcoFarm’s upcoming workshop The Real Dirt on Pesticides and Bee Death, followed with an hour Q&A, we will analyze and deconstruct how we got to our severely damaged earth. If we don’t peer into the darkness, we run the very real risk that the exact same players, the same voices, the same enablers and profiteers will continue to hold the microphone, the narrative and the power. If we don’t do the hard work of digging deep to understand the players, this abuse of power will continue. Nothing will change. Power will continue to protect itself.

Using the honeybee to speak for the more important Native Pollinators, this session will analyze the various academic and regulatory voices who to this day loudly insist Agricultural poisons are safe for pollinators if the applicator gets the dose right. We’ll dig into why this statement is a protective liability shield protecting those who have declared for years’ neonicotinoids are not a problem and should be sold without limits. In reality there is no safe dose of neonicotinoids and no applicator gets the dose right.

The Real Dirt on Pesticides and Bee Death panel speaker, Stacy Malkan, Investigative Journalist of US Right to Know will introduce us to the fact of UC Davis’ and other Public University’s refusal to release emails which could expose their financial relationship to agrochemical giants. We’ll look at how Public Universities and their Extensions hide their funding and other public information behind a firewall. They refuse to reveal how much profit they’ve received from the chemical industries who essentially are funding their own product studies. We will discuss this incredible conflict of interest in depth. Listen to this lively and fascinating podcast of Stacy Malkan speaking about the recent glyphosate corruption and cover up.

Sainath Suryanarayanan, co-author of the groundbreaking book, ‘Vanishing Bees; Science, Politics and Honeybee Health', Rutgers University Press, will speak about the allies in Public University Entomology Departments, self-proclaimed ‘Scientific Beekeepers’ and the honeybee Thought Leaders in service to the pesticide industry message that pesticides are not the problem. Sainath explains why and how the current studies of honeybee health purposefully limits information. By NOT studying critical issues such as chemical synergism and actual field conditions, honeybee academics create an academic ignorance or blindness that is distilled down to beekeepers nationwide. Viewing the honeybee health through a ‘pest-control’ lens has allowed the pesticide industry to control the funding and the media narrative of what is killing honeybees.

And EcoFarm Keynote Speaker, Jonathan Lundgren, former USDA Scientist and Owner of Blue Dasher Farm will shine a spotlight on the USDA and other institutions we have entrusted to protect the food on our table and bee forage in the field. USDA is tasked with regulating agro-chemical policy change and reporting on poison safety on America’s industrially utilized pollinators, the honeybee. Jonathan will speak about how Scientists who speak out against a given poison, are silenced. He speaks of his own life-changing experiences as a USDA Scientist who stood up to the chemical industry interests in our food system and how it changed his world. (Podcast coming soon!)

By our trust is how we can be harmed.

We want to trust our regulators and Institutions. That’s what they are here for. But unexplored trust is how abuse can happen right under our nose. Academics and Regulators are tasked with protecting the public from harm and for producing an honest assessment of the safety of our food. We like to bite into an apple thinking that it is not only harmless to humans, but was safe for pollinators in the orchard when it was a flower. If we understand and are able to articulate the problem we might create a #BeeToo moment of change.

If we create a new vocabulary we can articulate and fight the power of the conventional food system.

Moderator, workshop organizer, and EcoFarm Planning Committee member Terry Oxford will share her personal experiences of powerful California Beekeeping Associations (which are just business Trade Associations) who work hand in glove with pesticide interests to prevent bans on Neonicotinoids with State Legislators in California, other States and most recently in New Hampshire. Over and over again, Conventional Beekeepers and ‘Scientific Beekeepers’ stand in the way of legislation at critical times driving deflection tactics, confusion and disinformation declaring neonicotinoid pesticides are not a problem for bees.

Please join us EcoFarm’s The Real Dirt on Pesticides and Bee Deaths on Thursday, January 23 at 8:30am followed by an hour-long Q&A session. 

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