Something else to worry about

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Bumble Bees In U.S. Suffer Sharp Decline, Joining Countless Other Species Disappearing Worldwide

Travis Walter Donovan, The Huffington Post

1/4/11, 01:26 PM

Honey bees have long been known to be in decline, suffering from the enigmatic colony collapse disorder, and the latest research on U.S. bumble bees only exacerbates concerns over future food production, as bees are responsible for pollinating 90 percent of the world’s commercial plants, from fruits and vegetables to coffee and cotton.



Unfortunately, insects aren’t the only creatures suffering drastic losses to their populations. Tigers could be extinct in 12 years if efforts to protect their habitats and prevent poaching aren’t increased. A recent study across three continents showed snakes to be in rapid decline due to climate change. Overfishing and changing weather patterns have left 12 of the world’s 17 species of penguins experiencing steep losses in numbers. A recent World Wildlife Fund report found that all animals in the tropics have declined by 60 percent since 1970, with everything from gorillas to fish thinning out.

Honey laundering: The sour side of nature’s golden sweetener

JESSICA LEEDER – Global Food Reporter, Globe and Mail

Jan. 06, 2011 2:07PM EST

What consumers don’t know is that honey doesn’t usually come straight – or pure – from the hive. Giant steel drums of honey bound for grocery store shelves and the food processors that crank out your cereal are in constant flow through the global market. Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.

None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into the U.S., where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.



While many of the executives are still at large, U.S. investigators arrested four honey brokers in the U.S. who are Chinese or Taiwanese nationals with connections to ALW. All have plead guilty; three have been sentenced to a range of jail terms and deportation proceedings are continuing. The fourth is scheduled for sentencing in Seattle this week.



Mr. Adee, the beekeeper, said he’s been attending talks in Washington to convey who the targets of honey laundering probes should really be.

“It’s kind of like they’re running a car-stealing ring,” he said. “You catch the guy stealing the car and put him out of business. But the guy that’s laundering, the chop shop or the packer, he just finds another supplier,” he said, adding: “I think it’s going to keep getting worse until we catch a couple of big ones, give them a little jail time.”

19 comments

Skip to comment form

    • RiaD on January 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    might think about posting this at La Vida Locavore

    i’m sure they’d love to have it

  1. I buy honey from a local beekeeper. The taste is definitely different than what you buy in the grocery store. Organic honey has immense nutritional and immune boosting benefits.

    But, that (as you point out) is a very small part of the problem. The larger problem is the food shortages due to lack of pollination. Coinciding with the bee decline is the “white nose syndrome” affecting bats. Both are integral in maintaining food supply.

    • Edger on January 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    humans are in danger of extinction if efforts to protect their habitats and prevent poaching aren’t increased?

    Or are we a special animal exempt from the laws of nature and physics?

  2. from cause and effect. Too many layers of progress and ‘civilization’ between ‘the world as we find it’ and the reality we are creating. I watch the TV and the world there selling is ugly, violent, arrogant, dead  and it’s goal is to create a habitat that is unfit for any species of life.

    You don’t need a weatherman

    To know which way the wind blows  

     

    • TMC on January 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Nicotine is a very potent neurotoxin. German giant Bayer have developed a group of compounds called neonicotinoids are now among the most widely-used insecticides because they act on the central nervous system of insects.

    Neonicotinoids persist in the soil and have high leaching potential, meaning that they can not only harm soil organisms but can be washed out and end up contaminating water bodies, and they may be implicated in the enormous decline in aquatic insects such as mayflies which we have seen in recent years.

    When the bee population started to suddenly disappear, alarm bells went off in Europe and the US.

    France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia have all banned neonicotinoids to a greater or lesser degree – and they have been further heightened by the recent leak of a confidential internal memo from the US Environmental Protection Agency, which warned that bees and other insects were at risk from another Bayer-produced neonicotinoid, currently on the market, called clothianidin.

    In May 2008, Germany banned seed treatment with neonicotinoids due to negative effects upon bee colonies. Bee keepers suffered a severe decline linked to the use of clothianidin in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany, allegedly connected to a failure to apply a ‘glue’ agent that affixes the compound to the coats of seeds. The manufacturer maintains that without the fixative agent, the compound drifted into the environment from sown rapeseed and sweetcorn and then affected the honeybees.

    The 2009 documentary Vanishing of the Bees suggests that a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and colony collapse disorder does exist, although the experts interviewed conceded that insufficient data exists in order to make a conclusive case.

  3. There are those who claim that there is no proof that Einstein ever said this, but even if he didn’t, the following quote could still be true. The disputed quote…

    If the bee disappears off the surface of the globe, mankind will only have four years of life left: no bees, no pollination, no plants, no animals, no humans. — Albert Einstein

    Having once been a frequent consumer of honey, upon learning of questionable practices such as those you mention, this writer has switched to organic agave nectar, which is still very palatable. Trader Joe’s also carries an agave/maple syrup combination that is quite flavorful.  

    Given the shocking trends observed during the past two centuries, if humankind is still around at all two centuries from now, I’m convinced that the population of humans on earth will be greatly diminished and life will look radically different than it does now.

    • RUKind on January 10, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I had not heard of adulterated honey before this read. We use a lot of it.

    The compromises in food quality, GM seeds, pesticides, gassing produce to control ripeness and appearance. This is getting crazy.

    We grow 3000 sq ft on a half acre lot. I’ll be taking down south side trees soon to expand the garden area. I think a large amount of the front lawn will become a distinctive herb design. That could add a thousand feet.

  4. lemons, apples and oranges are producing. We’re also watching our first pineapple grow. We tried bananas, but it didn’t work out. Our berry plants are acting strange, but when they produce, the blueberries and blackberries are great with cereal. We’re waiting to see how our strawberries produce this year. Last year was great.

    We get bee hives all the time. We call professional bee keepers when we need to remove them.

    As far as I can see, it’s all in the fruits and stars. But I don’t touch processed sugar. Too much fvcking with the food chain already. The oceans are dying, and if the bees are truly struggling as some suggest, we might just be fiddling under Vesuvius.  

Comments have been disabled.