Last week, the London Guardian reported that honeybees are dying off at too high a rate to guarantee their long-term survival.
The Perpetual Motion Machine
Remember how the mainstream media tricked us into ignoring the dangers of smoking tobacco and then later tried to confuse us about the reality of climate change? The amusement ride isn’t over. Hang on tight because this time the theme is bee deaths. For the gritty details, check out Michele Simon’s report Follow the Honey 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits.
Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto are so practised at manipulating the media that they even ‘fooled’ the mighty NY Times. (Yes, that was a tone of sarcasm you just heard.) Just this week John Schwartz wrote a little piece about bees. Contrary to the Guardian’s conclusions, he decided that overall the news was pretty good because colony deaths were down to only 23.2 percent nationwide. He doesn’t mention that the population loss continues to be unsustainable.
John Schwartz and the NY Times are Baffled
There is a growing scientific consensus that bee deaths are probably connected to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides were not adequately studied before they were placed on the market. Now that they have been in use people are discovering evidence suggesting these pesticides do serious harm. Removing neonicotinoids from use until they can be proven safe seems prudent and hardly controversial.
But John Schwartz either prefers or pretends to be baffled about the causes for the collapsing bee populations. He briefly suggests the ‘mites are killing our bees’ theory from a few years ago but drops it since it obviously is easily disputed. He just puts it out there as a small diversion. Something to think about. Then he must have gotten tired of typing because he gives most of the rest of his article’s space to Bayer to explain that in their opinion everyone should just keep on buying and using their products. As a reader I have to admit to some bafflement myself. Are salespeople ever credible or objective about their products?
But propaganda is all in a day’s work for John Schwartz. Want to hear his punchline? In case the reader still wasn’t convinced that Bayer is blameless for collapsing bee populations, Schwartz ends the piece with some innuendo suggesting that maybe the problem is really the fault of beekeepers!
“People are being forced now to look more carefully at their bees,” he said. “If you don’t take care of them, you lose them.”
Well if that isn’t just cozy. I can just imagine the NY Times and Bayer snuggled up together whispering sweet bedtime fantasies. The people over at Syngenta must be a little bit annoyed though at being left out in the cold. How come Bayer gets all the free advertising when they are also killing the bees?
And What About Monsanto?
The people from Monsanto watching all this bee trouble unfolding must be thrilled. After all, every executive who has ever attended a motivational workshop ‘knows’ the Chinese symbol for crisis is formed from two concepts: danger and opportunity. As American foreign policy has proven since 1948, disasters almost always mean two things: huge profits and a chance for great PR. If you can pretend to be a humanitarian the rest of the story will just write itself.
Anyway, in 2011 Monsanto bought Beeologics, a company that focused on bee health. Some events were held, the usual schwag was distributed, websites were made, etc. If you blinked for a moment or got distracted you might have been tricked into thinking that Monsanto was actually a responsible and caring corporation.
But I learned something today from John Schwartz about how to write a proper conclusion. Like him, I am going to end this piece by playing what if. The game starts with a quote from Monsanto’s website about the acquisition of Beeologics:
Monsanto will use the base technology from Beeologics as a part of its continuing discovery and development pipeline. Both companies expect their combined research could provide farmers with novel approaches to the challenges they face.
Pipeline? Development? The idea of Monsanto examining bees is not at all reassuring. Does this mean Monsanto wants to create GMO Bees? Should we call them Frankenbees?
You can read the NY Times article here if you are inclined but really why bother?