Endosulfan, 'pollinator friendly' generic pesticide driven to elimination by activism funded by lobbyists for replacement.
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." - Albert Einstein
We learned further, with recent research - the life for man may have an extension of another 6 years. So? Let the count down begin!
We have 10 years once the bees vanish
WHAT DO THE HONEY BEES DO? The value of bee pollination in human nutrition and food for wildlife is immense and difficult to quantify. It is commonly said that about one third of human nutrition is due to bee pollination. Simplifying it further it can be said that every third bite taken by humans is a gift by the Honey bee. This includes the majority of fruits, many vegetables (or their seed crop) and secondary effects from legumes such as alfalfa and clover fed to livestock -- are exclusively pollinated by the Honey bee. There has not been sufficient study to quantify the effects of pollinator decline on wild plants and wild life that depend on them for feed. Some plants on the endangered species list are endangered because they have lost their normal, native pollinators.
TYPES OF HONEY BEES:
Type 1 Small Honey bee - Apis florea are small Honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia. They make very small, exposed nests in trees and shrubs. Their stings are often incapable of penetrating human skin, so the hive and swarms can be handled with minimal protection.
Type 2 Large Honey bee - Apis dorsata, the Giant Honey bee proper, is native and widespread across most of South and Southeast Asia. Apis dorsata binghami, the Indonesian Honey bee, is classified as the Indonesian subspecies of the Giant Honey bee or a distinct species; in the latter case,
Type 3 Eastern Honey bee - Apis cerana, the Eastern Honey bee proper, is the traditional Honey bee of southern and eastern Asia, kept in hives in a similar fashion to Apis mellifera, though on a much smaller and regionalized scale.
Type 4 European Honey bee - Apis mellifera is the most commonly domesticated species. It seems to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe. It is variously called the European, Western or Common Honey bee in different parts of the world. Two species of Honey bee, A. mellifera and A. cerana, are often maintained, fed, and transported by beekeepers.
WHERE DO THE HONEY BEES BELONG? Honey bees as a group appear to have their center of origin in South and Southeast Asia (including the Philippines). Honey bees are not native to the Western hemisphere hence the loss of Honey bees may not represent a threat to native plants there. There are no Honey bees native to the Americas. Many of the crops that depend on Honey bees for pollination have also been imported into the Americas since the colonial times. However, Honey bees in modern times continue to be optimized for the pollination services of many crops across the USA. The role of Honey bees in the western hemisphere is almost exclusively in commercial agricultural.
HONEY BEES IN AGRICULTURE: Honey bees are among the most effective insect pollinators. They pollinate over 130 crops, and contribute over $15 billion in annual crop sales in the U.S. alone. Understanding the Honey bees helps us maintain and increase yields in horticultural crops, seeds and pastures through better conservation. In 2000, Dr. Roger Morse and Dr. Nicholas Calderone of Cornell University attempted to quantify the effects of just one pollinator, the Western Honey bee, on only US food crops. Their calculations came up with a figure of US $14.6 billion in food crop value. Management of healthy Honey bees and other pollinators is critically important to health, nutrition, food security and better farm incomes for poor farmers (FAO, 2007).
HONEY BEES, AGRICULTURE IN DEVELOPING ECONOMIES: Since Honey bee is native to the Eastern Hemisphere any imbalance in population will have grave impact on the bio diversity. The loss will impact drastically the native plants and animals that depend on the bees for life sustaining links between ecosystems. For example out of 142 million hectares of agricultural land in India, about 50 million hectares are under bee dependent crops (http://india.gov.in). Tropical countries are the leading producers of Honey with China (303220 MT), Russia (55173 MT), India (52000 MT) and Ethiopia (44,000 MT). There has not been any colony collapse of Honey bees in these nations, as yet. However, since these countries mostly depend on wild bees for pollination in agriculture (Bee Keeping is not accepted commercially in developing nations and there is no commercial involvement of pollinator services). If the catastrophe strikes the impact will not be evident until the output for pollinated crops such as fruits and vegetables drop drastically. For example, India stands to be one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables and it has continued to be so due to the extensive implementation of IPM practices in agriculture – with prescribed application of softer pesticides, optimizing the role of pollinators and beneficials. Farmers in warm climates rely on Endosulfan for pest control in cross pollinated crops as it does not inflict heavy mortality of Honey bees. The evidence is the high quality yield in fruits and vegetables of countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, India or China.
LOSS OF THE HONEY BEE: While the Western hemisphere continues to use the Honey bees commercially, they observe a tragic phenomenon – vanishing of the Honey bee. It is estimated that 1.1 million bee colonies in the U.S. died last year, which is almost 50% higher than usual annual losses (Daily Green). For the first time in 80 years, Bee Keepers in the USA were forced to import Honey bees to cross pollinate crops there in year 2006. Similar observation was made in the UK in winter of 2008 when one fifth of the Honey bees were lost. The death or disappearance of the precious pollinator has been attributed to the new age ‘nicotine based’ pesticides called the neonicotinoids. France has acted first and banned the neonicotinoid called Imidacloprid for the damage it caused to the Honey bees there. This global crisis provides an opportunity for the USA to lead the way with France and Germany in protecting our pollinators, an important component of our environment and food system. (Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2008). Protecting Honeybees in eastern world is even more crucial as it will impact ecosystems – interdependency of native flora and fauna. Without dividing the world in hemispheres there is an urgent need to focus on the relevance of Honey bee for its uniqueness in maintaining the ecological balance, managing the food crisis and linking together several ecosystems. There is doubt that Honey bees hold the key in pollinating food crops, creating forests and other vegetation in Earth.
WHAT DO THE BEE KEEPERS AND FARMERS SAY? Introduction of new age pesticides has driven beekeepers out of business in the USA with loss of Honey bees. US-EPA faces legal action for ignoring the farm ecology while introducing the newer range neonicotinoids. The farmers have also registered the link between neonicotinoid being incompatible to the IPM practices. Pesticides are necessary to curtail crop damage and propagate food supplies. However, agriculture requires sustainable pest management. Farmers in warm climates such as USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, China and Australia observe more frequent pest attacks than European nations. The pest management needs in these countries are different in nature. Farmers in warm climate are presented with tough choice as they witness pest attack and pollinator visit in same time span, however no farmer is ready to compromise the farm ecosystems to fight pests. At this time the stress on softer pest management solution is inevitable. The need for a smart pesticide has been answered by the generic Endosulfan for more than 50 years. Endosulfan is known to be effective as it discriminates and attacks the pest while being soft on pollinators and beneficial – including Honey bee.
POLLINATOR HONEY BEE AND ENDOSULFAN: Observing that the maintaining healthy bee population is of great essence to the protect environment as well as optimize agricultural output, some experts such as Professor Ivan Kennedy of Agricultural Chemistry, University of Australia recommend Endosulfan in agricultural economies. Countries that report loss of Honey bees have severely restricted or banned the use of Endosulfan and accepted the new age alternative – Imidacloprid. Imidacloprid being a systemic pesticide, enters the plant system (Endosulfan in non systemic, does not enter the plant system). Spraying of systemic pesticide such as Imidacloprid contaminates pollen and nectar that is used by the bees which affects their nervous systems and is found in honey. In Europe hives abandoned by the Honey bees have been found full of contaminated honey – declared unfit for consumption.
SAVING HONEY BEES IS SAVING LIFE ON EARTH: The erring pesticides are being pushed further into agricultural economies like India, China, Brazil, Argentina and Australia and are fast replacing the high volume generics. The multinational marketers have failed to understand the impact of this capitalism. Endosulfan is a broad spectrum pesticide which has proven softness to Honey bees, and other beneficials. It is well recommended in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices worldwide. Neonicotinoides were positioned as a replacement for Endosulfan without really considering the impact on Honey bees and pollinators. British bees can be saved perhaps, if Endosulfan is brought back into use in UK.
ENDOSULFAN USED IN USA ON BEEF CATTLE AND LACTATING COWS: The USA has approved used of Endosulfan for controlling ecto-parasites. The US EPA after extensive tests and review has approved a label for use of Endosulfan as cattle ear tags. Since year 2006, the ear tags are affixed on ears of cattle to prevent infections from insect pests and even lactating cows and beef cattle are allowed to use Endosulfan without any restrictions.
POST BAN, ENDOSULFAN CONTINUES TO BE RELEVANT TO EU: Despite the EU’s ban on Endosulfan, European countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland continue to trade and use Endosulfan. There is no substitute available to replace Endosulfan. The EU allows use of the Endosulfan for 120 days of application on repeat use with no restrictions when required by any EU member country.
ENDOSULFAN - BANNED HERE? Kuwait, Bahrain, Singapore, Norway are some of the countries which have banned Endosulfan. It must be noted that Endosulfan in only banned in countries where there is practically no agriculture. The economies in these countries do not support growing food crops.
NGOs UNSCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) a Delhi based non-governmental organization published a self generated report in magazine named Down to Earth alleging presence of alarming level of Endosulfan residues in foods, environment, human and animal blood. The study was contradictory in itself and results are scientifically questionable. The Time Magazine's September 2009 issue reveals the NGOs tainted agenda against the soft drink companies by similar fraudulent claims. The renowned residue study experts had questioned on the methods of sampling & analysis. Investigations have brought to light serious scientific fraud involved in these claims. These were particularly generated and propagated by Center for Science & Environment (CSE), an environmental NGO based in India receiving heavy funds from EU. CSE claimed that it found alarming levels of Endosulfan in one particular village in Kerala, India and attributed it to be the cause for a variety of health problems including cancer among people in that village. However, none of the claims of CSE could be scientifically supported / demonstrated. One Mr Mohana Kumar who claimed to have detected 115.19 ppm level of Endosulfan residues in his own blood sample (about 15000% higher than the lethal level of 0.86 ppm) has continued to live healthy life for more than six years and works with Pesticide Action Network to lobby against the generic Endosulfan.
AGRICULTURE NEEDS SOFTER GENERICS: Professor Ivan Kennedy an expert in Agricultural Chemistry, University of Australia has supported use of Endosulfan as it has proven to be soft on pollinators and beneficials. Any alternative to Endosulfan will only cause harm to pollinators and disrupt the pollination process, reducing the yield in fruits and vegetables.
PROPAGATED MYTHS: Endosulfan is not cause for Kerala's victims. The ailing people in Kerala are victims of rogue activism. The State of Kerala did was not supplying iodinised salt for household consumption. The ailments visible in Kerala are comparable to the other parts of India which have not been supplied with Iodinised salt. However, activism planted by the Pesticide Action Network and Thanal a local group has kept the victims of Kerala away from medical help. India has good medical facilities with AIIMs or Apollo being capable of serving the patients, however the victims are forced to suffer and wait rather than seek help - all at the behest of the activists who have capitalized on the suffering of the children, women and men in Kasargod or Padre Village in Kerala. It is sad that now the politicians have jumped the money 'spinning wagon' by turning activists. An aspiring politician recently claimed compensation for few patients in Karnataka whom she has herself diagnosed to be victims of Endosulfan. What is surprising is that the patients never get brought to a health care facility in a well equipped hospital. One step in diagnosing the ailment will expose the false claims made against Endosulfan.
ACT NOW!!!: As informed citizens of progressive world, we need to focus on keeping all the sustainable solutions for maintaing the bio diversity of our planet as well as manage the food crisis of growing world population by employing softer plant protection and curbing pest menace efficiently. No farmer will compromise his farm's ecosystem. Write your opinions and sign this petition for the farmer who toil for fresh produce. You are welcome to write to us for more information and also sign this petition for action against the erring activists who act under the cloak of helpers but damage the people's interest whether in Kerala or Kentucky. Do sign up and share the responsibility for more informed tomorrow!
Discover the last journey of the Honey Bees. Vanishing of the bees is a documentary that chronicles the impact of new range neonicotinoid pesticides (touted as replacement for pollinator friendly Endosulfan).
Informative website which talks about saving the only available plant protection that is soft on bees. EU employs both funded activism and international chemical conventions such as Stockholm and Rotterdam Convention to pushing the generic Endosulfan towards elimination. Lobbyists are eager to replace Endosulfan, for a new range pesticide that has killed bees in USA and UK. The site is also informative in discussing the toxicity issues. It stirs clear the controversy around alledged victims of Endosulfan and the truth behind the scientific blasphemy.