The latest buzz
Colony collapse disorder is a devastating disease that has wiped out hives across this country. That’s bad news even if you never use honey: As they fly about gathering nectar, the busy insects pollinate plants that produce one in every three bites of food we take. Even more disheartening, despite an infusion of $20 million from Congress over the past two years, scientists have not been able to pinpoint what causes the illness. Is it a virus? Stress? Parasites? Pesticides? Or some combination thereof?
(You really owe it to yourself to read Gourmet food editor and resident beekeeper Ian Knauer’s poignant account of dealing with a collapse in his own hives, if you haven’t read it already. Fair warning: have a box of tissues at hand—you are quite likely to need to dry your eyes.)
In recent weeks, a new suspect has appeared on the scene. Following a complaint in August by a coalition of beekeepers, a German prosecutor is seeking information from Bayer CropScience about the possibility that a pesticide it sells may be the real culprit here. German regulators have suspended sales of the chemical, called clothianidin.
On this side of the Atlantic, shortly after the German announcement, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an attempt to get it to release information that it has on clothianidin and other pesticides. The agency, which approved clothianidin in 2003 under the condition that Bayer conduct studies into the product’s impacts on bees, failed to comply with an earlier NRDC request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Could it be that the EPA has something to hide?