We’ve all been hearing about a leaked EPA memo that appeared a few days ago, linking colony collapse disorder to Bayer CropScience and the pesticide clothianidin, which the company wants to use on mustard seed and cotton. This pesticide attacks the nervous system of insects; it is used to treat seeds, but spreads to all parts of the plant as it grows. It is sold under the name Deter. As reported in Farmer’s Guardian in 2006: “Bayer is recommending Deter seed treatments for use in early drilled and low seed rate crops and crops drilled at conventional timings where slugs and wireworm pose a threat to establishment.” The November 2010 EPA memo admitted that their testing did not demonstrate that the pesticide would be safe for honeybees.
Bayer was supposed to run comprehensive safety tests on clothianidin in 2004, but never did, completely, and the chemical has been in use ever since with little or no evidence that it is safe. All this has happened under the not-so-watchful eye of the EPA.
And there’s more—apparently other chemicals from this family, called neonicotinoids, have been in use for over 15 years. A Colorado beekeeper, Tom Theobald, who now loses 30–40% of his hives per year, exposed the memo, the story of which has been quickly spreading over the interwebs. Barbara/Mr. McGregor’s Daughter drew my attention to it. Feel free to google—I can’t detail the whole saga in a post, and there are other links.
Although almost all gardeners I know—including our online community here—have largely rejected the use of poisons to keep our gardens going, we live within a larger agricultural/garden industry world where it’s still a way of life. Just the other day, I was buying some indoor plants at a local nursery, and noticed an employee recommending Ortho-whatever to another customer, who bought it and probably sprayed it inside his house, where his family and pets will be inhaling it along with some wretched plant infested by 2 spider mites.
And then there is the Western New York nursery and landscaping association, who actually protested a recent ban on playground pesticide use in New York State. Playgrounds. Not to mention Canada Blooms, the Toronto garden show that declined to show the movie Chemical Reaction, even though it only tells the story of how pesticides came to be banned in parts of Canada. Where Canada Blooms takes place.
We need more people to get the memo.