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October 22, 2014
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editorial

Of corn, genetic modification and the lowly honeybee


The EPA claims that there is no conclusive proof that clothianidin has a long-term adverse impact on bee colony health. That’s putting the burden of proof in the wrong place: the agency approved the pesticide for widespread use without ever—by its own admission—getting adequate evidence that it was safe in the first place (see www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/february2012/insecticideforGMcorntoxicbee...). Meanwhile, there is substantial proof not only that clothianidin has highly toxic effects on bees, but that those effects specifically correspond to the type of damage seen in Colony Collapse disorder (see www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/04/new-studies-colony-collap...).

The EPA said petitioners hadn’t sufficiently balanced clothianidin’s benefits against its costs. Well, here’s the calculation: clothianidin wasn’t approved until 2003, and the human race got along just fine without it up until then. We’ve needed bees for millennia, and have no substitute. We think the balance is pretty clear.

The public needs to wake up and fight not only this EPA action, but the entire agribusiness machine. It is not only the honeybee that is at stake. Local agricultural activists looking to make our area a prototype for sustainable, small-scale farming are doing their share. A few comments on this issue to the EPA wouldn’t hurt, either.