Bee Decline

The Poison Circle”

by Graham White

Ecotoxicologist James Cresswell, who studies pollination at the University of Exeter, UK, says that “one can still equivocate over the evidence”."

Mr Cresswell's laboratory has admitted receiving over £160,000 from Syngenta in the last year for his research on bees. Does this imply a conflict of interest?

A recent meta-analysis by Buglife the invertebrate conservation charity in the UK, considered 44 peer-reviewed science studies from around the world. Buglife discarded any studies which were inconclusive and divided the remainder into two categories.

Category One: were studies which concluded there was a high toxic risk to honeybees and other pollinators from neonicotinoids.

Of the 44 remaining studies analysed - 96% fell into Category One: i.e. - neonics are responsible for bee deaths around the world.

Just 4% of the studies exonerated neonics. All of these came from labs funded by Bayer, Syngenta or other manufacturers of neonics.

There is an evident correlation between researchers paid by the pesticide manufacturers, who almost universally absolve their products from all suspicion; and truly independent researchers who are NOT paid by manufacturers of systemic neurotoxins, who overwhelmingly find that neonics are the prime factor in the death of over 10,000,000 bee colonies worldwide.

This points to a fundamental corruption at the heart of so-called empirical science.
Have we simply replaced 'Tobacco Science' with 'Pesticide Science'? The lobbyists have infiltrated every organ in the body politic; even the Science Journals are not immune to this corruption, as was revealed in the Climategate scandal.

It is self evident that the pesticide industry pays for the results it wants, in relation to Risk Assessment. If the funding is forthcoming, researchers can always be found domewhere, who will guarantee that a product achieves a license, regardless of the risk to: the environment, wildlife or the public health.

We have now seen at least four cycles of the Poison Cycle in my lifetime. DDT was safe, we were told. All the scientists said so, the companies said so and the regulators said so.

Then birds began to die by the millions; fish died by the millions; whales, dolphins and orca in the high Arctic are so contaminated with DDT that they are unfit for human consumption. Every human being in Britain has DDT present in their fat, blood and urine - despite it being banned in 1989. It was banned in Sweden in 1970 and in America in 1982 - but it took the Brits until 1989 and was only banned then because of EU intervention. DDT is extremely lipophilic and every person reading this article has DDT in their body tissue. How many millions of cancers have resulted from this appalling chemical pollution? Cancer used to affect 3 in 100 in 1910; not it affects 1 in 3. No connection with pesticides?

DDT was simply replaced with organochlorines: lindane, dieldrin etc - the same scientists, from the same universities, told us these were safe; the regulators said they were safe - and the companies said they were safe. Europe banned organochlorines, 20 years later, when it was found they were: carcinogenic, caused foetal abnormalities, were bio-accumulative, caused heart disease.

Organochlorines were replaced in turn by organophosphates, derived from WWII Nerve Gases. The scientists said they were safe: university after university queued up with the funding bowl to guarantee that they were harmless to humans and wildlife. They were licensed, put into sheep dips and crop-fields ad lib.

The result? Otters were pushed to near-extinction in the UK; birds and fish died by the millions; insects and invertebrates died by the trillions. Entire river ecosystems were destroyed; thousands of farmers were struck down with a Pandora's Box of neurological diseases: Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons, … their lives were ruined. Organophosphates were so safe they ruined people's lives. So the farmers died and eventually, 20 years too late, when the otters were dead and fish were dead, and the farmers were dead, Europe banned these neurotoxic pesticides. But they were safe, weren't they? All the university researchers said they were safe; the regulators agreed and the industry provided all the data.

All of this would be academic, and indeed to the men in white coats it is. Sadly, the American EPA just announced that 5,560,000 bee colonies have been annihilated since 2007. Hundreds of bee-farmers have been bankrupted; thousands of lives have been affected.

Another million bee colonies were killed in France in a single year after the introduction of Imidacloprid in 1994. Bayer denied all responsibility - and university researchers were on hand to exonerate the neonics. But independent studies confirmed that the neonics were responsible and the French banned them in 2000. The ban was never rescinded. French agriculture did NOT perish; French farmers look fat and profitale to me. The same story was repeated in Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland.

The recent report by Pierre Mineau for the American Bird Conservancy concluded that the only factor which correlated strongly with the massive decline in farmland birds across Europe and America - was neonicotinoids. It is not just bees: it is other pollinators, bumblebees, butterflies, amphibians, birds, bats . . . we are staring ecosystem collapse in the face on America's and Europe's croplands.

Yes - many scientists can still “equivocate over the evidence”": it seems highly profitable to do so; in stark contrast there is little funding available to those who do NOT equivocate over the evidence, who allow the genuine empirical science to dictate their findings, rather than the source of their funding.

The issue of Pesticide Risk Assessment represents a watershed for the profession of Toxicology. There must either be a genuine reformation in Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, which expels the pesticide companies and their corrupting money from the university labs - and pursues the truth, pro bono publico, or the stench from the rotting corpse of toxicology will spread from the laboratories to the regulatory offices and the legislative chambers. Everyone involved in this evil farce is culpable; and everyone should be called to account for their actions in a legal, public forum.

Personally I would like to see a new law enacted, that any scientist who gives a clean bill of health to a pesticide, which is subsequently banned because of its self-evident toxicity in terms of its: ecological, mutagenic or carcinogenic effects, should be legally liable under the criminal and civil law. Until such time as the 'pestitutes' can be jailed or sued for damages, for passing nerve gases as 'fit for human consumption', nothing will change.