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.”