Did Bayer (and the EPA) Kill The Honeybees?

A leaked EPA memo is being cited by scientists as smoking gun evidence of likely cause of the massive die-off of honeybees. The culprits, these researchers claim, are Bayer CropScience and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The memo details how Bayer performed facially inadequate testing on the pesticide clothianidin and then EPA accepted the results to release the pesticide without adequate proof that it would not harm the bee population. The EPA gave conditional approval in 2003 and let Bayer sell the product.

The EPA memo dated November 2, 2010 says that the EPA accepted the flawed research and only told the company to complete further safety testing by a certain deadline. The company did not complete the research for years and instead fought to get extensions on its conditional permit. The final testing was reportedly flawed — performed in another country with bees that were located on a small patch of treated crops surrounded by thousands of acres on untreated crops. The EPA quickly embraced the defective study and gave full registration to clothianidin in 2007 during the Bush Administration. Yet, even in the Obama Administration in November, 2010, the EPA did not act when the company filed for another extension.

On a political level, this is a fascinating story since many Republican candidates have been calling for the elimination or reduction of the EPA to help the economy. The loss of the honeybees represents a catastrophic blow for agriculture in the United States. Even if you are a candidate with little concern for public health or the environment, this is an example of how pollution or harmful chemicals hurt the economy.

On a legal level, the story would create an interesting question if true. The company stands accused of doing rigged and delayed field testing in order to get a defective product to market. The result is claimed to be the devastation of honeybees that are vital to farms and other businesses. Can they now sue? The problem will be proving causation in such a massive tort case. Of course, a trial would produce greater scrutiny than was the case at the EPA.

I am also concerned that this memo had to be leaked. Once again, neither the agency nor Congress informed the nation of this evidence for years as the world has searched for a cause of the loss. Even if this is not found to the cause or only cause, there remains questions of why this company was able to introduce such a chemical into the environment with so little scrutiny. The reliance on industry testing has long been controversial and the lack of serious scrutiny during both the Bush and Obama Administrations shows how industry continues to exercise a disturbing degree of control over the data used to evaluate their products.

Source: PR Watch

45 thoughts on “Did Bayer (and the EPA) Kill The Honeybees?

  1. The honey bee die-off started long before that, reference episodes of The X-Files from the early/mid-1990s that often discussed it as part of their storyline. The 2003 pesticide is about 10 years too late.

  2. I agree with previous posters that if we are going to consider a corporation a “person” then the death sentance should apply. Guilty? Then you are done, if you have a problem with it, appeal to the Georgia Pardons and Parole Board, I am sure they will be open to a reversal. One other note, ALL AMERICANS need to review what is going on with Tort Reform. Ultra-conservative elected and appointed federal judges are greatly limiting the ability of real people to sue virtual, corporate people. Fight this creeping injustice before it is too late to challenge!!!!

  3. This is journalism at its worst. Don’t be fooled by this dork.
    Before you all start getting too worked up and political about this and start blaming Bayer or the EPA, I suggest that you read in its ENTIRETY the fine wiki article
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder
    If you read the wiki article you will see how complex this problem is, and any faith you have that an EPA memo has somehow established that the cause of bee deaths is clothianidin will be destroyed. Turley’s worthless article doesn’t provide any solid info about anything.
    He states “A leaked EPA memo is being cited by scientists as smoking gun evidence of [the] likely cause of the massive die-off of honeybees”. Which “scientists” (no quotes, please!)? Those who always believed in a pesticide connection? Those scientists whose studies point to a virus, Virroa mites or a fungus as the cause have now been suddenly converted by an EPA memo? Is Turley claiming that there is suddenly a consensus among scientists (which is what he seems to want you to believe)? Poppycock! What if Bayer didn’t do an adequate study? This magically establishes cause and effect?
    This is pseudo-scientific crapola!

  4. The bees are being poisoned by the use of neonicotinoids like clothianidin which is 7000 times more toxic to bees then DDT. Made by Bayer and Syngenta sponsored by the EPA and defended by Croplife America. A temporary ban will prove that this is the cause that’s what they are afraid of.

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