Thursday 19 April 2012

Three Things We Must Do - To Save The Bees, Ourselves And The Planet

The call to 'save the bees' has done a couple of circuits of the globe now and to those who can see the bigger picture, this crisis highlights issues that affect not just bees, but the entirety of life on Earth. It is becoming clear that we need to change our ways.

Here are three things - the ABC - I believe we need to re-think most urgently:

Agriculture - chemical farming is the number one killer of bees and birds, by pesticide poisoning and by herbicidal destruction of wild food sources. We need GM crops like we need to get hooked on heroine: the agri-chem-GM model is exactly that of the drug pusher, with promises of a better life turning to dust as the price rises with every dose and not-so-veiled threats if you consider kicking the habit. If you are gullible enough to believe the GM industry's sales pitch, I have some beach-front property in Arizona you may be interested in.

There is plenty of food for everyone: the problem is lack of education and the politics of distribution. Learning to grow healthy food – along with principles of nutrition - should be as integral to a child's education as learning to read. If you think more GM or more pesticides is the answer, then you are asking the wrong question. If you think massive grain monocultures can solve the problem of starvation in Africa or Bangladesh, then you have not been paying attention to reports of crop failures in Texas.

Biodiversity - is nature's way. Mono-cropping may be cheap in the short term, but in the long term it is incalculably expensive, both to the health of the soil and of the people. Organic gardening is the way forward - nobody sprays the jungle, yet it feeds millions of creatures. Permaculture, forest gardening, aquaponics, all have a part to play in our future of abundance for all, if we kick the grain habit in favour of a multi-layered, many-flavoured, vegetable-based diet with wild and free-range protein supplements.

Conservation - Wild places are the lungs and kidneys and liver of the planet: they purify, recycle and replenish and we need more of them. Natural habitats must be conserved and protected and re-created where they are lacking. Nowhere have we ever truly improved on nature.

Alongside this radical ABC, we also need to re-think beekeeping, which provides a metaphor for our overall treatment of nature since Victorian times. We have been taught to put bees in boxes designed not for their convenience but rather for ours, while applying medications designed to mask the problems we have created for them. We have shipped them around to service the mono-crops we have decided we needed - contrary to their natural world of diversity and naturally-evolved flora.

We all must now take responsibility for the abuse suffered by the planet and work to make it a better place for us and for the bees.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

My challenge to Bayer

To the Management of Bayer Crop Science, the Crop Protection Association and Dr Julian Little

Now it is clear from a number of research papers that - contrary to the misleading propaganda published by Bayer et al since they were first put on the market - neonicotinoids do indeed pose a massive danger to bees and other pollinators, I would like a straight answer to this question:

Did Bayer always know that this class of pesticides was lethal to bees, even in minute doses, and that sublethal effects would include disorientation, which to bees is death by another name?

If so, you are without question guilty of reckless profiteering at the expense of some of our most valued insect species and as such unfit to run a company.

If not, then you are incompetent fools who failed properly to test your own products before marketing them and are thus unfit to run a company.

Either way, if you had an ounce of decency between you, you would hang your heads in shame and resign from your posts forthwith.