How Seed and Pesticide Companies Push Farmers to Use Bee-Killing Insecticides

If you’ve been following what’s happening with bees in this country, you’ve probably heard about neonicotinoid insecticides (or “neonics”). The most commonly used insecticides in the world, neonics are extremely toxic to insects, including beneficial ones like bees. Not only have they been linked to a decline in honeybee numbers, but a new research article published in Nature found that seeds coated in the insecticide have a negative effect on wild bees on farms. Wild bees, such as bumblebees, contribute billions of dollars of value in pollination services to crops. Read more

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Intersex Fish, Disappearing Birds, and Lab-Made Milk

Here’s what caught our eye in food news this week:

1. Food Safety Advocates Welcome, Criticize Foster Farms’ First-Ever Recall of Salmonella Chicken (The Oregonian)

Last week, just before the holiday weekend, Foster Farms recalled over a million pounds of chicken. But some food safety advocates feel it’s too little too late after a 16-month-long salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 625 people. The company insists that that it has begun to enact new food safety procedures but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has raised questions about how effective they are. Read more

Above the Fold: EPA, Protect Bees!

Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect. Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees. Read more

The Plight of the Pollinators

It appears we may be on the verge of a new silent spring, a season marked, not by the absence of birdsong, but by the lack of insect buzzing.

A range of flying invertebrates—from the iconic monarch butterfly, to moths you’ve never heard of, to a number of once-common bumblebees—are suffering significant declines. Some biologists are warning that the losses could have serious consequences for the food web and for human agriculture, especially since native pollinators are far more important for food crop pollination than the domesticated European honeybee. Read more

EU Steps Up for Bees and U.S. Backtracks

Last week, the European Commission announced its position against the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticides, urging nations within the European Union (EU) to impose a two-year suspension on their use. Great news for bees across the pond.

But here in the U.S., policymakers aren’t stepping up. EPA officials are continuing to ignore the emerging body of science that point to pesticides, and especially neonicotinoid insecticides, as a critical factor in bee declines. What’s worse, the agency is poised to approve yet another bee-harming pesticide. Read more

Honey Laundering and the Global Marketplace

In both the popular imagination and ad campaigns, honey is the epitome of a wild food. After all, bees can’t be herded and overfed like cattle, or immobilized like broiler chickens if they are to continue making the sweet substance. As reported here last year, bees are “a key to global food security” due to their critical importance in food chains worldwide. In fact, honey seems to be a bellwether of global food insecurities. Read more