Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yet more reasons to go organic and pesticide free

Pesticides killing off honeybees and monarch butterflies here in Pennsylvania, and nationwide.
  • Bees are critically important to farm ecosystems because of their role as pollinators that allow crops to produce edible fruit and seed. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon described by beekeepers, researchers and government officials when entire hive populations seem to disappear, apparently dying out. A CCD working group was recently formed with researchers from the University of Montana, The Pennsylvania State University, the USDA/ARS, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to analyze the problem. Their preliminary report indicates how pesticides may be a factor. According to the CCD report, "If bees are eating fresh or stored pollen contaminated with these chemicals at low levels, they may impact the bee's ability to learn or make memories. If this is the case, young bees leaving the hive to make orientation flights may not be able to learn the location of the hive and may not be returning causing the colonies to dwindle and eventually die." Porterville Recorder reporter Sarah Elizabeth Villicana interviewed a Terra Bella, California beekeeper, Eric Lane, who suspects harm to the bees is linked to imidacloprid, made by Bayer CropScience. "It is my personal belief that this chemical is responsible for thinning the bee population," Lane said. "It was used it France and killed 70 percent of the bee population in France."
  • The planting of crops genetically modified to resist the herbicide glyphosphate (most commonly known by the brand name Roundup®) allows growers to spray fields of young soybeans or corn with this herbicide instead of tilling to control weeds. Milkweeds survive tilling but not the repeated use of glyphosphate. In fact, before the adoption of these GM crops, surveys in several states revealed that croplands with modest numbers of milkweeds produced more monarchs per unit area than other monarch habitats. The loss of milkweeds in these row crops is significant, considering that these croplands represent more than 30% of the total summer breeding area for monarchs.
What can you do? Well buy organic products which don't use the above pesticides. You can also create a Monarch Habitat in your yard.

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