Congressional hearing on bee health stacked against science
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Congressional subcommittee hearing on pollinator health, held today, failed to include a robust science-based discussion about the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees.
Pesticide manufacturer Bayer (DE:BAYN) testified at the hearing for the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture. But the panel included no independent scientists on the leading edge of bee research and no large, commercial beekeepers who are experiencing firsthand the dire losses of bees which are responsible for pollinating many of our food crops.
“The hearing was stacked in favor of pesticide industry interests and others who have a stake in conducting business as usual. If Congress really wants to be informed about the bee crisis, they must hear from the independent scientists who are studying the issue, not Bayer,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Friends of the Earth food and technology program.
The Bayer representative at the hearing did not mention pesticides in a long list of factors he said were impacting bee health.
Today’s hearing reinforced the findings from a report released yesterday by Friends of the Earth, called “Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits.” The report describes tobacco-style PR tactics employed by Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta to manufacture doubt about the science and influence public discussion on the bee crisis, emphasizing factors besides pesticides.
“The problem is that the hearing focused narrowly on certain factors that threaten bees, while missing the big picture on bee health. For example, there was much discussion about the threat to bees from varroa mites, but little mention of the scientific evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides make bees more vulnerable to varroa mites, other pests and pathogens,” Archer said.
“We must take action now to reduce the known risk factors for bees. This is why we support restricting neonicotinoid pesticides.”
Acting on scientific evidence of harm to bees, the European Union banned the three most widely used neonicitonoid pesticides for two years.