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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Letters to the Editor

(From MetroActive)

How Can This Bee

Thank you for Colleen Watson's well researched article "Bee Afraid," Cover Story, Dec. 17).

Several years ago, Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta acquired patents to coat some crop seeds with neonicotinoids. David Hackenburg, former president of the American Beekeeping Federation, told Sierra Club, "Look at what's time based. The massive bee decimation started when regulatory agencies rubber stamped the use of neonicotinoid spraying and coating."

There are holes in the science. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to evaluate the risks from sub-lethal effects due to low-level exposures of the neonicotinoids on honeybees. Neonicotinoids have been quantified in the nectar and pollen and even corn syrup fed to honeybees. These pesticides can affect their navigational skills and ability to fight off infections.

Sierra Club urged the EPA to protect honeybees and the food supply over the bottom line of multinational corporations. In light of the mounting evidence that the neonicotinoids are deadly to bees, Sierra Club called for a precautionary moratorium on these powerful crop treatments, until more study can be done.

The EPA refused. It's unfortunate that regulatory agencies are using doublespeak. They claim to protect our food supply, yet they aren't doing the proper studies.

Laurel Hopwood
Chair, Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Action Team
Cleveland, Ohio

Bugging Me

Re Honeybee Colony Collapse: Is there anything a backyard gardener can do to help? Would a hive in my own small yard (one-third acre) help the overall honeybee population? I'm not really interested in the bee products, but would like to help the problem if possible.

Mary Ann Lahann

See below for one possibility.—Editor

Backyard Bees

This letter is in response to the excellent article "Bee Afraid."

Not only are nicotine-based pesticides used commercially, but many natural gardening recipes advocate the use of tobacco to repel insects. If organic gardeners used such a recipe the world over—and if this is, in fact, the cause of honeybee decline—there could be a significant impact even from backyard users.

Since tobacco can harm tomatoes, it's often avoided where fruits and veggies are grown. But, flower enthusiasts may use it in place of synthetics, believing they are using a safer alternative for their families, pets and the environment. I bet if they knew they maybe risking the health of honeybees, they'd rethink the application.

Lisa Bracken
Silt, Colo.

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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