The Ultimate Irony from Bayer

Bayer, the company that makes insecticides that harm bees, has come up with the ultimate irony: buy their Provado Ultimate Bug Killer and get a free packet of bee seeds.  Their publicity continues the irony with: ‘There is a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding being circulated about the effects of neonicotinoid, insecticides including imidacloprid and thiacloprid in relation to bee health.’

Too right!  And most of the misinformation comes from Bayer themselves. In contrast, recent findings from a team of independent scientists say: ‘At field realistic doses, neonicotinoids cause a wide range of adverse sublethal effects in honeybee and bumblebee colonies, affecting colony performance through impairment of foraging success, brood and larval development, memory and learning, damage to the central nervous system, susceptibility to diseases, hive hygiene etc.’.  For those who wish to send a message to Bayer, the publicity gives a contact name and email address.

Gareth, Cotswolds

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This entry was posted in Bayer, Ecosystem, EFSA, Environment, Insecticides, Neonicotinoids, Pesticides, Provado. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Ultimate Irony from Bayer

  1. itsonlyausername says:

    To add to the bad behaviour of Bayer this recent event in Oregon US that resulted in thousands of bumble bee deaths sums up the wealth of feeling for the bees that ordinary people have.

    Incidentally Safari is the same chemical brand name that my local farmers (2 of them) use around me as a seed dressing for oilseed rape (called Canola in the US). Being planted in October with this dressing means that next year the same impacts will be felt by beekeepers as has been felt in previous years but it could be a lot worse.

    Also of note is the possibility that next years mortality figures will get confused as indicating no change because people reading about the suspension, which commences on 13th December 2013, will think that next year is a neonicotinoid free year and so any mortality experienced among the beekeepers apiaries will be attributed to other causes. Now that is a real possibility.

    The residues in the soil will still be feeding the vegetation in hedgerows as well as any crops planted in previously treated fields. This residue is at toxic levels already hence no meaningful control group test being possible when DEFRA conducted its research earlier this year.

    If anyone doubts still the harm being done by neonicotinoids one only has to read the article linked above and also read some of the previous articles on this story to realise that the company acknowledges the toxicity to bees of this chemical.
    Yet Bayer and Syngenta claim otherwise. Odd that ain’t it?

  2. simplebees says:

    Herewith the text of the email I have sent to the Bayer publicity person:

    Dear Cathy

    I have just read a piece on Provado that gives you as a contact person. The piece seems to be under some misapprehension about the toxicity of neonicotinoids to bees. I quote: ‘At field realistic concentrations, neonicotinoids cause a wide range of weakening effects on bees’. Should you wish to read the full text of the scientific paper from which this quote was taken, it is available here.

    I have copied this email to a small number of other concerned beekeepers for their information.

    Yours sincerely

    Gareth John

    Burford

  3. simplebees says:

    And the reply:

    Dear Gareth John,

    Thank you for your email and the link to the report; I will of course review it.

    Our position remains that neonicotinoids pose a negligible risk to bees when used responsibly and according to the instructions. We believe that to improve bee health attention should focus on the areas cited by peer reviewed academic research: the Varroa mite and other parasitic mites; bacterial, fungal and viral diseases; habitat loss and degradation; and genetic factors.

    Many thanks for your interest.

  4. simplebees says:

    And my further response:

    Dear Cathy

    Thank you for taking the trouble to respond to my email.

    You say: ‘We believe that to improve bee health attention should focus on the areas cited by peer reviewed academic research: the Varroa mite and other parasitic mites; bacterial, fungal and viral diseases; habitat loss and degradation; and genetic factors’.

    I quite agree that all of these factors have a role to play and that that role may well differ from place to place. More research is indeed needed, especially into why some populations of honeybees around the world seem able to develop tolerance to varroa mites when left alone, untreated by any of Bayer’s miticides.

    You also say: ‘Our position remains that neonicotinoids pose a negligible risk to bees when used responsibly and according to the instructions’.

    I am wondering on what evidence this position is based. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee certainly did not come to the same view; neither did the European Food Safety Authority. Moreover, the DEFRA/FERA study on bumble bees that has been used by politicians to support the use of neonictinoids was so woefully flawed in its design and execution that it is unlikely ever to be published in a peer reviewed academic journal. Such a study would fall well short of the sort of high quality research you seem to have in mind. Is this why you say our ‘position’? After all, you could as easily have said ‘the evidence’.

    Put another way, a truly evidence-based approach would include all possible factors that might affect bee health, including systemic insecticides, about which the academic paper I referred to says: ‘At field realistic doses, neonicotinoids cause a wide range of adverse sublethal effects in honeybee and bumblebee colonies, affecting colony performance through impairment of foraging success, brood and larval development, memory and learning, damage to the central nervous system, susceptibility to diseases, hive hygiene etc.’ I don’t think many people would think such a statement supports a ‘position…that neonicotinoids pose a negligible risk’.

    Best regards

    Gareth

  5. itsonlyausername says:

    Thank you for posting these replies for our information. I wonder if she has even heard of Professor Dave Goulson? I think he would be horrified if he received an email like this from her deriding all the scientific research he has done, which in a word or three is exactly what she has attempted to do. I also noted that Lord de Mauley came out with as deeply flawed point regarding ‘pesticides’ when he more or less followed the exact same line as presented by this woman in her response to you.

    His view is that pesticides would make no difference. He neatly sidestepped the issue of pesticides by suggesting that bees (and pollinators) would still suffer declines regardless of the use of pesticides. It was all constructed as a clever PR exercise. Being seen to be doing something about bee and pollinator decline for the waiting masses without actually addressing the real issues. In other words doing jack diddly again apart from ensuring a business as usual agenda.
    I want to thank Melvyn for forwarding the link to the Lord De Mauley piece above.

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