Monsanto is in the headlines this week largely due to President Obama signing the Monsanto Protection act, but that is not the only reason this agriculture giant is raising eyebrows. The great outdoors wouldn’t be quite so great without trees, flowers and other vegetation to fill the landscape. Unfortunately for lovers of the great outdoors, it looks like there is a new threat looming over green, luscious landscapes, in the form of a plague striking bees.
Recent studies on epidemic death rates among honeybees are beginning to point fingers at genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto. In 2012, an epidemic swept through commercial bee colonies killing up to 50% of the nations’ bee colonies used to pollinate crops for farmers. Among the hardest hit are almond growers in California, who saw their bee colonies nearly decimated over the winter. While hives looked to be healthy last fall, there was a near-catastrophic die off of honeybees over the winter.
While it is hard to say if the mass die-off is solely due to genetically altered seeds and not drought or fungal issues, European scientists have linked bee epidemics to neonicotinoids, which are incorporated into plants grown from genetically altered seeds produced by Monsanto. The neonicotinoids are suspected to be the culprit in the mass die-off of bees in both Germany and Spain. In response to this research, the European Union has already proposed a ban on the seeds in question. Here in the United States, the leading bee research company was bought by Monsanto in 2012 after the company was first implicated in epidemic bee colony collapses, and little has been heard on the subject since.
This situation has left farmers scrambling to find new bee colonies for the pollination of many fruits and vegetables and could have the effect of raising prices on these foods in the near future.
For more information on this topic, check out this in-depth article on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/science/earth/soaring-bee-deaths-in-2012-sound-alarm-on-malady.html?hp&pagewanted=all&_r=1&