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Why is it that despite a two-year partial ban across Europe against systemic pesticides, Big Pharma sales are still as high as before? Would it be fair to conclude that the attempt to protect bees, other pollinators, and ourselves has been inadequate to say the least?

Two decades since their advent, bees continue to die at staggering numbers. And now the systemic pesticides sprayed on our produce  appears in our blood and been shown to effect developing brains.

We need to become aware at how polluted our environment really is and the ginormous tax we’re putting on our planet and in their pocket books.

By the end of the year, the EU has to decide whether to renew the ban, tighten it or rebuke it altogether. The Coalition against BAYER Dangers (CBG), based in Germany, demands a complete ban of neonicotinoid pesticides.

“It’s high time that Clothianidin, Imidacloprid, and Thiamethoxam are taken off the market completely,” says CBG board member Jan Pehrke. “…The export of these substances must be stopped as well. Moreover, the toxins must not be substituted by new but equally dangerous chemicals such as Sulfoxaflor or Flupyradifurone.”

In the spring of 2008, the use of Clothianidin caused the mass death of bees in Southern Germany. This prompted the German government to ban the use of Clothianidin und Imidacloprid in the cultivation of corn and grains. Since December, 2013, Clothianidin, Imidacloprid (both by BAYER) and Thiamethoxam (SYNGENTA) may no longer be used for treating corn, sunflower, and rape seeds across the EU. However, they will still be licensed for spray application with potatoes and sugar beets.

After the mass bee deaths in Germany, the Coalition against Bayer Dangers brought a charge against the management for knowingly endangering the environment. Meanwhile, in America, non-profits like the Center For Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides have also filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

Systemic Pesticides: Demand Rages On

Evidently, these measures have not led to a reduction in neonicotinoid demand, even though studies have shown that they do not increase yields. What they do in fact is remain in our soil for years, infiltrate our water systems, and wreak havoc on our ecosystem.

A list published by the German government (upon the Green party’s request) shows that the quantities used after the ban stayed at the same level (see below). The quantities exported by German companies – mainly BAYER – even increased significantly, from 952 tons (2008) to 2269 tons (2014).

Neonicotinoids are systemic chemicals that spread from the seed throughout the plant and disrupt the nervous system of any insect which comes into contact. The substances travel into the pollen and the nectar and can poison beneficial insects such as bees.

Learn more about why bees are dying, get a copy of Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page.

Estimations for the LD 50 lie between 3 and 50 ng/bee. That means that 50 percent of the bees which consume 3-50 ng of the pesticide, die. At even lower, sublethal doses, the compounds can cause bees to become disoriented, without directly killing the insect. Bees which cannot return to their hive will soon die. A single bee cannot live without her hive for more than 24 hours. The European Food Security Authority (EFSA) therefore concluded in August that the use of neonicotinoids spells out great dangers for bees.

Bayer managers have known the risks since the beginning of the ’90s. But did nothing. Soon after the neonics ravaged bees in France and  other parts of the  world. The company downplayed the problems, submitted deficient studies to authorities.

When we interviewed Bayer for our film, Vanishing of the Bees, they also defended their chemicals. Today the evidence is irrefutable. Lab tests have shown that neonicotinoids appear to alter the bees’ ability to navigate, weakens their immune system and, through cumulative effects, may lead to early death.

Neonicotinoid Sales In Germany

  • 2006: 258 tons
  • 2007: 280 tons
  • 2008: 258 tons
  • 2009: 280 tons
  • 2010: 257 tons
  • 2011: 295 tons
  • 2012: 342 tons
  • 2013: 200 tons
  • 2014: 207 tons
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