pesticide

Honeybee researcher who blames virus for CCD has financial ties to pesticide manufacturer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: colony collapse disorder, Bayer, health news

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(NaturalNews) The New York Times recently published a story on a new report that claims to have discovered one of the primary causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a condition in which entire colonies of bees mysteriously die. But the report, which pins a fungus and virus combination as the culprit, was headed by a researcher with financial ties to Bayer Crop Science, the creator of pesticide products that are also linked to CCD.

Why is this important? For starters, Bayer is responsible for the production of neonicotinoid crop pesticides that have been increasingly linked to causing CCD. But ever since the new report broke headlines, the mainstream media has shifted its focus from things like pesticides to the supposed fungus/virus, and some are calling foul.

According to a recent CNN Money report, Bayer gave a sizable research grant to Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, lead author of the new study that conveniently steers clear of any mention of pesticides as a possible culprit. And some believe that the move was nothing more than a ploy to use junk science to protect Bayer from further scrutiny over its pesticides.

Prior to receiving grant money, Bromenshenk had planned to testify against Bayer

Interestingly, Bromenshenk had been after Bayer's pesticides prior to receiving the grant money, and had even agreed to be a key witness in a class-action lawsuit by a group of North Dakota Beekeepers against Bayer. The plaintiffs all believed strongly that Bayer's pesticides were largely responsible for the mass die-off of their bees, and Bromenshenk seemed to be in agreement as well. But shortly after receiving the research grant from Bayer, Dr. Bromenshenk mysteriously switched sides and began to pursue other research options instead.

Conducted in cahoots with Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, the study focused entirely on the disease option and avoided any mention of pesticides. Bromenshenk insists that the grant played no role in his change of mind, or in the outcome of the study, but not everyone is convinced. After all, Bromenshenk also owns a company called Bee Alert Technology that is working on a hand-held acoustic scanner to detect bee ailments -- a device that will sell really well if the cause of CCD is pinned on a contagious disease rather than on pesticides.

Numerous studies link pesticides, environmental toxins to CCD

Back in May, NaturalNews highlighted a study out of Washington State University (WSU) that evaluated pesticide levels in honeybee wax (http://www.naturalnews.com/028429_colony_col...). The research team found that much wax contains "fairly high levels of pesticide residue" and that such residue "significantly reduced (bee) longevity".

A study conducted prior to that one identified very high levels of two particular pesticides in honeybee wax, as well as lower levels of 70 others. Many researchers believe that such exposure results in bees developing immune-deficiency diseases that compromise their health and make them more susceptible to infection. This hypothesis would explain why bees are allegedly contracting and dying from the newly discovered fungus/virus.

Many other reports, including one released by the French agricultural ministry, have found that neonicotinoid pesticides kill bees even in very small doses. After roughly a third of the country's bees died in 1999, France banned imidacloprid, a pesticide produced by Bayer. Italy has also banned certain types of neonicotinoids for similar reasons.

And according to Dr. Daniel Mayer, a retired bee expert from WSU who is testifying on behalf of the beekeepers in the class-action suit, it is obvious that pesticides are at the very least partially responsible for CCD. After visiting 17 different North Dakota bee farms that had experienced massive bee die-offs, he indicated that bees likely collect pesticides from plants and bring them back to their hives, where all the bees end up becoming exposed.

Bayer, of course, denies all allegations that its products are killing honeybees. But why did the company decide to fund research into alternative options for CCD? If the pesticides are safe, why go to all the trouble?

Bayer pesticide safety studies hidden from the public

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in 2008 because the agency refused to release the safety studies conducted by Bayer that allegedly proved pesticides to be safe for bees. The EPA had approved the pesticides under the assumption that exposure levels were too small to cause any harm, but that assumption was based on Bayer's own studies, which contradict virtually every other study that has been conducted concerning the issue.

The EPA finally released the studies after much pressure, and the NRDC is currently reviewing them. But based on the multitude of independent studies already released, even very low doses of pesticides are enough to cause significant harm to bees, despite claims by Bayer to the contrary. The end result is that prolonged pesticide exposure weakens the immune system to the point that bees become unable to fend off disease.

Sources for this story include:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/08/news/honey_b...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/science/07...

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