Bayer’s Headache

The past year saw Bayer (your headache company) in the news quite a bit. A very serious study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health linked Bayer’s pesticide imidacloprid to Colony Collapse Disorder and published the findings in June’s Bulletin of Insectology. (You can get a copy of the complete paper here.) Imidacloprid is a systemic neurotoxin insecticide, available everywhere fine insecticides are sold – check out this link on Amazon.com. ($40 will make 100 gallons of the toxin, if you like.) The stuff is considered relatively safe around humans, according to the US government’s EPA, but it does a number on “sucking, chewing, biting insects” – fleas, termites, roaches, aphid, and perhaps your bees. The Harvard study thinks so, but Bayer begs to disagree. Bayer has fought back, saying the Harvard study is “factually inaccurate and is seriously flawed, both in its methodology and conclusions.” Bayer added that “All new bee research involving bee health is welcome and great care should be taken to avoid sweeping, unsupportable conclusions based on artificial and unrealistic study parameters that are wildly inconsistent with actual field conditions and insecticide use.” Indeed. And, as if to prove its love for all things honey bee, the German pharma-chemical enterprise (which is worth $70 billion and posted a $3 billion profit last year) established a 3 million dollar bee research station in Durham, North Carolina, associated with the university there. They will keep about 40 colonies of bees for research and apparently focus on the small hive beetle and varroa mite. Bayer’s project manager, Robyn Keene, says that Bayer is dedicated to sustainable agriculture.


About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at www.badbeekeeping.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
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