The threat of bee extinction is becoming a major crisis with dire implications for the world food supplies.
Greenpeace reports that the world has lost 40% of its bee population. Without bees and other insects pollinating crops, humanity is set to lose up to a third of its food sources – just as our global population is on track to grow by the same amount.
Pesticides are the main culprit in global conversation.
In the UK, a study published by The Royal Society found that exposure to neonicotinoids– a type of pesticide – lowers the percentage of viable sperm in male honeybees and shortens their lifespan.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately you probably heard about the millions of bees that were killed in South Carolina from spraying the mosquito insecticide Naled to curb the Zika virus. This story was widely circulated in the mainstream media, but it points to a trend that many don’t know about- the world’s bees are dying and could go extinct without swift action.
For insight into what’s happening to the world’s bees, our risk intelligence platform analysed online conversations on this topic over the last 6 months. Over 60,000 digital media postings were identified, comprised of 13% online media (news, blogs), and 87% social media (Twitter, Facebook). Below are four of the top stories that we pulled from our analysis.
ONLINE MEDIA (e.g. mainstream news, blogs)
1. Pesticides peddled as ‘vitamins’
Bayer Crop Science has agreed to pay a Massachusetts state fine of $75,000 for failing to properly advertise the hazards of pesticides to bees and the environment. The State Attorney General reported that Bayer made numerous misleading claims to consumers about the safety of its pesticides, including falsely advertising that they were similar to giving plants ‘a daily vitamin’.
2. Regulations try to keep up- but fall short
In Canada, a recent law aimed at cutting the use of neonics by 80% has faced challenges. Under the law, farmers cannot use neonic-coated seeds unless truly needed to protect a crop, but defining that need has been contentious. Studies show that farmers can lose up to 15% of their corn crop without neonic-coated seeds – a risk many farmers are unwilling to take.
3. Lawsuits tackle improper labelling
The nonprofit groups Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association filed a lawsuit against Sioux Honey Association for the deceptive and misleading labeling of its Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s honey brands. Products labeled “100% Pure” and “Natural” tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto‘s Roundup® herbicide. Glyphosate is a known endocrine disrupter and, according to the World Health Organization, a probable human carcinogen.
4. Grocery retailers do their part…or do they?
Friends of the Earth has released a report grading the top 20 US food retailers on bee protection. 17 stores received an “F” for failing to have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate bee-threatening pesticides. Only Aldi, Costco and Whole Foods received pass grades in this category.
Polecat’s risk intelligence platform tracks opportunities and challenges for businesses and organisations, including the agricultural sector. Polecat harnesses the power of big data to help global entities keep up with new developments in a fast-changing world.