100,000 German Call for GMO Ban

GMO Cultivation Ban

GMO Cultivation Ban

German beekeepers have called for a nationwide ban on cultivating GM plants, reports the German NGO keine-gentechnik.de.

The call by the German Beekeepers Association (DIB), which represents almost 100,000 beekeepers, comes after Europe adopted controversial legislation enabling member states to opt-out of the cultivation of GMOs that have been approved at the EU level.

Under the law, a member state can ban a GMO in part or all of its territory. But the law has come under heavy criticism for failing to provide a solid basis for such bans.

The beekeepers are urging Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) to implement a Germany-wide ban on cultivation. The Minister pleads, however, for letting each state decide individually.

The beekeepers counter that a piecemeal approach will not work. Bees fly up to eight kilometres in search of food, the DIB said, so a juxtaposition of GM crop cultivation zones and GMO-free zones within Germany would be “environmentally and agriculturally unacceptable”.

“Bees know no borders,” the DIB added.

The beekeepers’ demand for a nationwide ban could bring them into direct conflict with the new opt-out law, as experts warn that such bans may not be legally solid.

National GMO cultivation bans will be tough to uphold

At a conference on the new European legislation hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture in Budapest, Hungary, in April 2015, Dr H.-Christoph von Heydebrand of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture warned that a nationwide ban on GMO cultivation would be much harder to justify under the new law than a regional or local ban.

A lawyer from the EU Council, Matthew Moore, speaking at the same conference in a personal capacity, agreed that it would be far easier under the law to defend national measures that “do not extend to the whole territory”.

Mr Moore gave an example of the type of challenge that would-be opting-out countries will be faced with. If they argue that GMOs threaten small-scale and agroecological farmers in their nation, they could be asked: “Is the entirety of your agricultural sector really composed of small farmers whose domination by a large agro-industrial company and its single pesticide motivated you to act?”

Mr Moore explained that the principle of proportionality is written into the new law, as well as being a general principle of EU law.

This means that the ECJ will be more inclined to accept GMO cultivation opt-outs “in relation to a defined region than in relation to the entirety of the territory of a country the size of Hungary”. Any measure taken by an opting-out country to ban or restrict the cultivation of GMOs must not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the stated aim.

Mr Moore made clear that if opt-outs were challenged, for example, by the GMO industry, the case would end up in the European Court of Justice. And the ECJ has a presumption in favour of the EU single market.

In simple terms, that means the ECJ could take a lot of convincing to allow a country or even a region to opt out of cultivating a GMO that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asserts is safe. Such an opt-out, if allowed to stand, could create divisions in the European single market and might bring the member state into conflict with the ECJ.

The current situation in Germany, with beekeepers ranged against government officials and pro-GMO farmers, also suggests that the new opt-out law will create internal divisions within a country.

The GMO industry may go down in history as having broken apart the European Union and set one sector of the food and agriculture industry against another.

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news:

 

 Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news


Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news

So what is with all the dying bees? Scientists have been trying to discover this for years. Meanwhile, bees keep dropping like… well, you know.

Is it mites? Pesticides? Cell phone towers? What is really at the root? Turns out the real issue really scary, because it is more complex and pervasive than thought.

Quartz reports:

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE — Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp — collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.

The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths — the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon — this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.

And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.

The authors write, “[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

While the overarching issue is simple — chemicals used on crops kill bees — the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.

Quartz notes, “Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.”

Bees outpace Orchids

 

 

Bees outpace orchids in evolution:

 

 Bees outpace orchids in evolution


Bees outpace orchids in evolution

 

 

Orchid bees aren’t so dependent on orchids after all, according to a new study that challenges the prevailing view of how plants and their insect pollinators evolve together.

A male orchid bee collects fragrance compounds from flowers of a Notylia orchid. Female orchid bees choose mates based upon the mix of these chemical compounds. (R. B. Singer photo)

A long-standing belief among biologists holds that species in highly specialized relationships engage in a continual back-and-forth play of co-evolution.

“What we found was that this reciprocal specialization did not exist for orchid bees and orchids,” said study lead author Santiago Ramirez, post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Neil Tsutsui, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. “The bees evolved much earlier and independently, while the orchids appear to have been catching up.”

The bond between specific bees and the orchid plants they visited has been well-documented by botanists and naturalists, including Charles Darwin. Biologists discovered that male bees needed the specific perfume compounds produced by the flowering plants in order to mate with female bees.

In the study, published in the Sept. 23 issue of the journal Science, the researchers screened more than 7,000 individual male bees and sequenced DNA from 140 orchid pollinaria, which are small packages that contain all the pollen grains produced by a single flower. The researchers were able to infer the evolutionary history of both bees and orchids, and establish which species of bee pollinates what species of orchid. The researchers also quantified and analyzed the perfumes collected by orchid bees and compared them with the compounds produced by orchid flowers.

To their surprise, the scientists found that the bees evolved at least 12 million years earlier than their orchid counterparts. Additionally, they found that the compounds produced by the orchids only accounted for 10 percent of the compounds collected by their pollinators. The remaining 90 percent could be coming from other sources, including tree resins.

Male orchid bees can find the fragrance compounds they need for mating from decaying logs, as shown here, as well as from orchids. (B. Jacobi photo)

“It appears that the male bees evolved a preference to collect these compounds from all kinds of sources, and the orchids converged on that chemical preference millions of years later,” said Ramirez.

In essence, orchids need their bee pollinators more than the bees need them.

The findings have implications in conservation biology, particularly because of the alarming decline over the past 15 years of bee pollinators worldwide.

“Many plant species are extremely dependent on their pollinators,” said Ramirez, who began this work while he was a Ph.D. student in the lab of Naomi Pierce, Harvard University professor of biology. “If you lose one species of bee, you could lose three to four species of orchids. Many of these orchids don’t produce any other type of reward, such as nectar, that would attract other species of bee pollinators.”

“Our study is consistent with the emerging theory that insect sensory biases have played a major role in driving reproductive adaptations in flowering plants,” said Ramirez. “It highlights the ecological and evolutionary inter-dependence of flowering plants and their specialized pollinators, suggesting that new threats to insect pollinators may have profound effects on the ecosystems they inhabit.”

Scientists discover what’s killing bees

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought:

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

The mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.

“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”

The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.

“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says vanEngelsdorp.

Honey Bee Collapse not due to pesticides alone

 

Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines:

 Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines


Pesticides not yet proven guilty of causing honeybee declines

The impact of crop pesticides on honeybee colonies is unlikely to cause colony collapse, according to a paper in the journal Science today (20 September 2012). More research is now needed to predict the impact of widely-used agricultural insecticides, called neonicotinoids, on honeybee populations. UK scientists from the University of Exeter and Food and Environment Agency highlight flaws in previous research (published in Science, April 2012) that predicted that neonicotinoids could cause honeybee colony collapse. Neonicotinoids are among the most widely-used agricultural insecticides and honeybees ingest residues of the pesticides as they gather nectar and pollen from treated plants. The previous research has been cited by scientists, environmentalists and policy-makers as evidence of the future impact of these pesticides on honeybees. It is likely that the research was instrumental in the French government’s recent decision to ban the use of thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid that is the active ingredient of Cruiser OSR, a pesticide produced by the Swiss company Syngenta. However, the new paper argues that the calculations made in the research were flawed because they failed to reflect the rate at which honeybee colonies recover from losing individuals. The previous research, led by French scientist Mikaël Henry, showed that the death rate of bees increased when they drank nectar laced with a neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam. It calculated that this would cause their colony to collapse. The research published today explains how the calculation may have used an inappropriately low birth rate. Lead author Dr James Cresswell of the University of Exeter said: “We know that neonicotinoids affect honeybees, but there is no evidence that they could cause colony collapse. When we repeated the previous calculation with a realistic birth rate, the risk of colony collapse under pesticide exposure disappeared. “I am definitely not saying that pesticides are harmless to honeybees, but I think everyone wants to make decisions based on sound evidence – and our research shows that the effects of thiamethoxam are not as severe as first thought. “We do not yet have definitive evidence of the impact of these insecticides on honeybees and we should not be making any decisions on changes to policy on their use. It is vital that more research is conducted so that we can understand the real impact of neonicotinoids on honeybees, so governments can put together a proper plan to protect them from any dangers that the chemicals pose.”

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American Government and Monsanto’s Tyranny kill bee’s

Illinois Department of Agriculture secretly destroys beekeeper’s bees and 15 years of research proving Monsanto’s Roundup kills bees:

Monsanto's Roundup kills bees

Monsanto’s Roundup kills bees

An Illinois beekeeper with more than a decade’s worth of expertise about how to successfully raise organic, chemical-free bees is the latest victim of flagrant government tyranny. According to the Prairie Advocate, Terrence “Terry” Ingram of Apple River, Ill., owner of Apple Creek Apiaries, recently had his bees and beehives stolen from him by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDofA), as well as more than 15 years’ worth of research proving Monsanto’s Roundup to be the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) destroyed. It began last summer when Ingram, who teaches children about natural beekeeping, gave a sample of his honeycomb to IDofA inspector Susan Kivikko at a beekeeper’s picnic. Ingram explained that his bees would not touch the comb, and asked Kivikko if it could be tested for chemical contamination. Kivikko told him that IDofA does not test for chemicals, presumably because its policy is to actively promote them, and instead took the comb and had it tested for “foulbrood,” a disease that Ingram says is greatly overblown. When the test allegedly came back positive, Kivikko proceeded to get the ball rolling on a witch hunt that would eventually lead to the illegal seizure and destruction of Ingram’s personal property. Not only did Kivikko, as well as her colleague Eleanor Balson and superior Steven D. Chard, break the law by trespassing Ingram’s property on numerous occasions without a warrant, but they also committed numerous crimes by stealing his hives and equipment and destroying pertinent evidence before a hearing, which Ingram believes may have ultimately been rooted in a deliberate conspiracy by the state to hide the truth about Roundup, and subsequently steal his most vibrant bees. IDofA appears to have targeted Ingram for his research linking Roundup to CCD. Of particular interest was Ingram’s extensive research on Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which began several years ago when hundreds of Ingram’s hives had died. He later determined that Roundup sprayings near his property were to blame, which prompted him to actively research the subject and closely monitor his hives in conjunction with this research from that point onward. What he gathered, and subsequently taught to others, was concrete evidence that Roundup kills bees. He also used this information and his many years of experience to develop and refine ways of growing strong, chemical-free bees in spite of Roundup sprayings, a move that apparently upset IDofA, which operates primarily to serve the interests of chemical companies rather than the interests of the people. “Is Illinois becoming a police state, where citizens do not have rights?” asked Ingram, who has been deliberately denied his rights, to the Prairie Advocate. “Knowing that Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture are in bed together, one has to wonder if Monsanto was behind the theft to ruin my research that may prove Roundup was, and is, killing honeybees.”