Even as the past decade has seen a rise in interest of healthier eating, green companies, urban gardens and organic farming, “Big Ag” and companies like Monsanto have been pushing their way forward with their own agenda. Farming communities across the U.S. have faced more hardship and desolation than many other industries since the beginning of the 21st century. Now bees are entering the throes of population destruction and chemically fronted agricultural maintenance. Insecticides are the primary force of the problem that has been dubbed “colony collapse disorder,” but experts and environmental advocates declare that the life of bees can be changed through ecological farming.
In a wide range of instances, pesticides, insecticides and what could otherwise be labeled as chemical preservatives were developed and implemented for many reasons involved with population growth. A wide collection of sources point to the greater use of pesticides in the U.S. as having taken place from 1940 to 1950. Since then, pesticide use in the U.S. alone has increased over 50-fold, and is the most common method of growing crops in the developed world.
While there is no solitary purpose for which pesticides were created, many of the reasons interlace. As populations throughout the U.S. have increased, many urban locations have only grown exponentially, and this in turn forces many plots of land to give up their space for further residential or commercial construction. Gentrification and city development are also caused by many factors, but the search for a job, the desire to be closer to more people and the allure of entertainment are all active factors in the expansion of cities.
As a result of city crowding, timeless staples of healthy living such as rural farming are pushed away and outsourced to areas of the globe that are more readily conducive to the harvesting of crops. While corn and soybeans are the top two crops produced in the U.S., California, Texas and Iowa lead the way in terms of all food production for the country. For people who live in or near these states, food production (and its consequent consumption) is not as perilous an activity as those who inhabit other states.
In order to transport food from one state to another, companies and farmers have to ensure that their products will not be damaged or unusable upon arrival. In large part, this is why pesticides and preservatives are being used so often. Even though having fewer pests in contact with food means the food will hold up better, it also means that by using pesticides, damage is being done to the food system in a different way. Through the use of these pesticides, namely neonicotinoids, bees end up falling dead, which is far too grave a reality to be ignored. This phenomenon of dying bees has been called colony collapse disorder, but the future of bees can be changed through reversion to ecological farming.
A report by Greenpeace International, a non-governmental organization, heavly contends that a re-introduction to ecological farming with an emphasis on biodiversity is the key to reversing such a harmful predicament. Bees are the most effective pollination method throughout the entire world, and even if another pollination method were invented and tested for implementation, it would still carry a far greater cost than that of bees’ natural abilities.
Another report released through researchers at Harvard revealed that neonicotinoids are truly no laughing matter. The researchers tested whether or not bees were affected by neonicotinoids through their winter hibernation periods, and discovered that six of the 12 chemically laced colonies had bees that died from symptoms resembling colony collapse disorder. Colonies that were not exposed to any chemicals during the study period survived with chart-topping numbers.
Ecological farming was defined by the Greenpeace report as building up semi-natural habitats for animals on farmlands, especially bees, and not allowing any use of pesticides or otherwise harmful chemicals, both to animals and eventual consumers. Such goals are very feasible, but will require an earnest effort towards stripping away much of the convenience that comes through ordering food grown in states that are hundreds of miles away. Many states have seasonal farmer’s markets, however, and outlets like this could very likely lead the charge in the effort to reverse the current structure within farming.
While it is unclear why the bees will leave their hives when confronted with the harsh effects of neonicotinoids, it has already been established that not having these creatures free to do their work forebodes further destruction on Earth. Honeybees, alfalfa leafcutter bees and bumblebees are all vital species of bees that enable the U.S., Canada and many other countries to grow food regularly and efficiently. Now that experts have established that neonicotinoids are nothing but detrimental to bee health, and that the problem of colony collapse disorder is a solvable one, it must be taken up by government bodies and farmers to ensure that bees are given the changes they need through ecological farming.
By Brad Johnson