Since the fallout from the global recession, corporations and political leaders have tried, and largely succeeded in separating economic growth from environmental protectionism in the minds of citizens around the world.
Spin messages encourage increased investment in genetically modified methods of addressing the needs of the world at the expense of tougher environmental protectionist laws involving food and water supplies. Instead, platforms are repeatedly released that force citizens to choose between the environment and the economy.
This disassociation between people’s health and people’s wallets is thoroughly represented by the diminishing supply of organic food crops around the world. The NRDC, one of the most effective environmental law groups in the US, acknowledges that over one third of organic food crops are lost, costing as much as $165 billion worth of food every year in the US. In place of organic food is an increasing supply of genetically modified foods, created by biotechnology corporations such as Monsanto or Bayer.
In early 2007, a task force comprised of US scientists and beekeepers began to study potential causes of vanishing honeybees as one of the primary reasons for the diminishing supply of organic foods. Every year millions of honeybees disappear much faster than they can be replaced, which the task force officially described as ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ or CCD.
One of the most renowned champions of honeybees is David Hackenberg who runs a series of commercial beehives across several states. Prior to the establishment of the US task force in 2007, Hackenberg attempted to bring the plight of the vanishing honeybees to the awareness of beekeepers across the country, but was dismissed as an ineffective beekeeper in his own right.
However, Hackenberg’s dire warnings proved more prophetic than many people in the industry initially believed. Cases of CCD broke out at bee farms across the US with little warning to beekeepers. The widespread collapse of bee colonies put more pressure on scientists to find a root cause for CCD, but the task force was unable to confirm one direct reason for the growing problem.
After exhausting biological reasons for the vanishing of the bees, the task force began looking at the farming practices occurring in the US and around the world. Once upon a time, farms comprised multiple crops of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals in very diverse yields. But those days are a thing of the past as many farmers today grow acres upon acres of one type of product. This is most often seen in massive corn fields, which is known as monoculture farming.
Unfortunately, bees require very diverse crops to survive, and monoculture farms are unable to provide the nutrients required by the bees. As a result, farmers must rely on non-organic measures to maintain the integrity of their crops.
While bees despise monoculture farms, pests that grow on individual crops flourish when fields are filled with one endless supply of food. This type of environment allows pests to spread throughout the field, making it very difficult for farmers to keep the outbreak under control. Monoculture farms are especially prevalent on corporate-owned farmlands, where owners spray the fields with poisonous pesticides to kill off the spreading pests.
Over time, developers of pesticides created newer, supposedly safer toxins due to growing public concern. However, these newer systemic pesticides were discovered to leech into plants and crops over the vegetation’s entire natural life, eventually reaching the pollen of the plants by the time they bloom. Once the pesticides are in the pollen, honeybees are exposed to the toxins when they pollinate the plants.
Beekeepers are nearly unanimous in agreeing that the pesticides are unlikely to poison the bees immediately after they pollinate the plants. But scientists on the task force are increasingly concerned about long-term exposure of sub-lethal doses to bees, and how one bee’s contact with the pesticides affects the entire beehive.
As more bees disappear, countries like the US, Canada, and other developed nations will increasingly rely on imported foods to survive, particularly produce. Without sufficient quantities of bees to safely pollinate and subsequently flourish crops in farm fields around the world, entire nations must look outward for sources of food to sustain their own populations.
While there are no affirmative causes for the vanishing of the honeybees, scientists safely predict that an increasing reliance on non-organic and non-traditional methods of farming is accelerating the problem. Text taken from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over 50 years ago aptly applies to the disappearance of the bees today, and how society must respond to counter the growing phenomenon:
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Humans and animals everywhere require safe and healthy food to survive, which is disappearing alongside the honeybees. Until more pressure is placed on corporations developing pesticides, genetically modified foods, and political leaders with the power to enforce change – the world will continue to lose more of its healthy food supply in favour of profits for biotechnological giants.
European Honey Bee by John Severns via Wikimedia Commons
Guest Author Bio
A young and creative writer, Gary is a very opinionated person who is not afraid to speak his mind. He uses writing to express his thoughts, and feels attached to his work. Gary believes that an article or a post is both an expression of the writer’s beliefs, but it should also challenge the reader to develop an opinion of their own. As a result, Gary expresses his own opinion within his writing, while leaving room for readers to agree or disagree with thoughts of their own.