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Bees, America, and Money


Stepping away from the political arena for a moment, I’d like to offer a warning of another nature – something that is equally important. Most of us have heard about it. It’s called Colony Collapse Disorder. In 2006, beekeepers began to notice a strange and disconcerting phenomena. Bee colonies that appeared to be healthy and normal in all aspects were suddenly abandoning their hives, never to return. In just less than a decade nearly one-third of the honeybee colonies in America have collapsed and disappeared. There’s hardly anyone who doesn’t enjoy natural honey. It’s delicious, and remarkably healthful in numerous fashions. But Colony Collapse Disorder is a huge problem for bees (and for humans, who rely on bees more than most people understand).

Some of the crops that will fail without honeybees are apples, onions, oranges, avocados, cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkins, carrots, and almonds. The list is frighteningly extensive. In addition, the U.S. would lose up to $15 billion in revenue without the pollination of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables.

But some of the problem, as always, lies in politics and government.

While almost, one-third of our food supply relies on pollination, our government can’t seem to make any significant decisions, because of the contradicting reports between the various agencies the government “owns,” and the activists for a safer environment for the fruits and vegetables we grow.

While the risk for catastrophe is huge, our government has only invested a thimbleful of money to solve the problem — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set aside a paltry $20 million over the next five years for research. (We spend that weekly on illegal aliens). This country is faced with the potential loss of $15 billion worth of crops that bees pollinate every year, and while the USDA admits that agricultural production hinges on the honeybee, it has done little more than bark about the problem, and has failed to aggressively seek out solutions. Why? It’s simple. The big money is in pesticides, and the companies that produce them. Once again, the harlots in Congress would rather have cash than conscience.

While the USDA recently allocated $8 million in a program to help “save the bees,” beekeepers aren’t seeing that money. The money is going to landowners, who are already receiving government incentives. Once again the government throws money at a challenge without trying to understand the nexus of the problem. This time they are paying farmers to stop crop production on endangered lands, rather than becoming proactive by planting better crops to facilitate bee foraging. It’s the typical government handout process that solves very little.

While there is no question that pesticides kill bees, there is still a good deal of mystery behind the frightening phenomena of Colony Collapse. Parasites, disease, and loss of quality habitat are issues, but the one thing most beekeepers agree on is that pesticides kill bees, and America is using pesticides like never before.

The Harvard School of Public Health issued a recent study stating that neonicotinoid, a pesticide class similar to nicotine that is used extensively in this country on commercial fruits and vegetables, relates significantly to the decline of honeybee colonies in the U.S. In fact, the Harvard study states pesticides are probably the most significant cause of “colony collapse disorder.”

Some scientists studying the disorder believe a combination of factors could be making bees sick, including pesticide exposure, invasive parasitic mites, an inadequate food supply, and new viruses that target bees’ immune systems. More research is essential to determine the exact cause of this problem. But don’t hold your breath.

Typically, our government is mostly interested in social issues – protecting and supporting immigrants who scramble across our borders illegally, and pouring millions of dollars into indigenous ethnic groups, as if this will magically raise their consciousness and integrity. The issues that could virtually collapse this country overnight, like illegal immigration, or the detonation of an EMP nuclear device over the U.S., or the catastrophic loss of honeybees in North America, barely make it to the six-o’clock news. It’s all about our new, twisted sense of priorities, and money. And more money.

Welcome to the new America.

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

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