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Here’s a simple question: who do you think is smarter – Albert Einstein or government employees? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to answer this question so I’m just going to go ahead and assume you went for Einstein.
Well, it seems like government employees believe they’re much smarter than the reputed scientist and decided to ignore his warning about a potential food crisis: “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”. Ok, perhaps he exaggerated with the four years, but he was clearly onto something.
Honeybees are extremely important for US crops. According to an RTAmerica report, they pollinate more than 100 US crops, including apples, zucchinis, avocados and plums, that are worth more than $200 billion a year. Other important animal pollinated crops (largely by honeybees) are nuts, citrus fruits, melon, berries, coconuts, cabbage, sprouts, onions, broccoli, peppers, aubergines, and tomatoes.
source: Reuters/ Heinz-Peter Bader
However, since 2006, we’ve lost about 10 million beehives and the death toll keeps getting bigger by the year. In fact, the situation is so disastrous that it got a name of its own: the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
This phenomenon has been affecting beekeepers all across the US. In the past few winters, they’ve constantly reported losses of about 22% of the bee population. Some of them even lost 90-100% of their honeybees.
And it’s not just happening in the US. The Telegraph has recently published an article on this subject where they cite the agri-business lender Rabobank saying the numbers of US bee colonies failing to survive each winter has risen to 30pc to 35pc from a historical norm of 10pc. The rate is 20pc or higher in much of Europe, and the same pattern is emerging in Latin America and Asia.
The reason why tens of millions of bees have died in the past few years is a type of pesticides used in agriculture, called neonicotinoids. Initially, they were considered to be environmentally friendly (which means there were no relevant tests conducted). Theoretically, these pesticides are only supposed to kill bugs that eat those plants. However, in repeated doses, they can kill entire bee populations in just a few years.
Now that multiple tests have been conducted and these pesticides were linked to the the Colony Collapse Disorder, the European Union banned the use of neonicotinoids for a period of two years, giving farmers time to breed more and better bees (there’s actually a new breed called “superbees” that are more resistant to pesticides).
“The EU vote comes after significant findings by the European Food Safety Agency that these pesticides pose an unacceptable risk to bees and their use should be restricted. Along with habitat loss and pathogens, a growing body of science points to neonicotinoid pesticides as a key factor in drastically declining bee populations” (RTAmerica)
But that’s back in old Europe. What did the US government to save our crops?
This is one of those moments where you wish they simply hadn’t done anything about it. Sometimes, it’s best when incompetent employees paint their nails and play Solitaire on their computers and stay far away from decision-making.
Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those blissful situations. This is the never-ending Americans vs Government + Corporations struggle and, so far, the score is 0 to I-stopped-keeping-count-long-ago. Once again, major pesticide producers whistled and the government fetched like a well-trained dog, ready to please its master at all cost. A never-seen-before food crisis is about to ravage the US and millions of people will be deprived of their daily meals? Well, they’ll take a plane to France and eat there, because they’ve got the best crops in the world and enough food for everyone.
In the meanwhile, we’ll just have to sit and watch the “beemaggedon” and the death of our remaining crops. We’ll have to spend our entire paycheck on a round of grocery shopping and explain to our hungry kids why they can’t have an extra apple in their lunchbox.
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