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The Koch brothers are killing our food supply


Chris James

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Monsanto aka. the Koch Brothers are killing the source of your food supply with their pesticide products...and they don't seem to care. They are spending millions to influence government and keep their deadly products from being banned. I bet you haven't been stung by a bee lately because there are far fewer of them. Enjoy your cup of coffee because just down the road there won't be any.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/opinion-honeybees-are-dying-and-our-food-supply-will-go-with-them/ar-BBmXQ52?li=BBieTUX&ocid=LENDHP

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I live in rural America, literally across the dirt road from several 1/2 mile crop circles (corn). Sadly, no alien carvings yet. So I had a chat with a friend after church today, a man who happens to be an independent agricultural insecticide consultant and a beekeeper. He suspects your concerns are a bit overblown. He acknowledges that nicotinoids are one of several suspects in colony collapse/abandonment, but only one among many, and that there is nothing approaching proof yet. The biggest controlled test was at Harvard and involved 12 "tainted" and 6 "control" hives located fairly close together, so any results could not be extended beyond that. Apparently there have been no studies that actually identify where the bees have gone who abandon their hives.

That said, he also pointed out that nicotinoid sales were actually halted in the US as of last Friday because some of the tests during their approval stage have to be done/redone. (Sounds like irregularities to me, but I can't point to the Koch Brothers by name.) Farmers can use their existing stocks for 2 years. At the same time, however, Europe recently rescinded their ban on usage, so it sounds like no real net change.

Bottom line is that the jury is still out on cause and effect of the decline in bee population. And while it's popular among activists to demonize certain players (i.e. Koch Brothers, ISIS, Obama, Trump, etc.) as the respective roots of all evil, it's not really that simple. In the case of bees, scientists and farmers all have a vested interest in determining what's going on with the world's bee population, but focusing on a single cause and specific persons at this stage, when we don't even know if it's the right cause, could do more harm than good.

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With respect to the position in Europe there was never an outright ban on the use of neonicotinoids - there was a qualified two year moratorium on them, which runs out this year. As it was a qualified moratorium it was not binding on the member states and the UK withdrew from it earlier this year under pressure from agro-business lobbies - funded by Monsanto. The ban was lifted shortly after the Conservatives formed a majority government. Quite a bit of their funding comes from agro-business interests and some of their leading members have large scale farming interests.

There has been some large scale research done on the use of neonicontinoids by the Food and Environment Research Agency and they recently published in Nature on the topic:

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep12574

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There has been some large scale research done on the use of neonicontinoids by the Food and Environment Research Agency and they recently published in Nature on the topic:

Thank you for the reference. It's good to know that some studies are going on somewhere in the world! Your reference has two points, however, that seem to support the need for additional research before we can categorically blame or not blame anybody. Specifically, it says:

"Our data contribute to the growing body of evidence highlighting the need for a large scale field-based experiment to determine the real-world impacts on pollinators of the use of neonicotinoid seed coatings on mass flowering crops."

and

"Our data would support the suggestion of Cresswell41 that published experiments attempting to link neonicotinoid usage with poor honey bee health40,42 lack the statistical power to discover similar population level effects on colony mortality."

[emphasis added]

All of which rather harkens back to the fact that headlines such as "The Koch brothers are killing our food supply" are unnecessarily alarmist, seemingly politically motivated, and in the long run counterproductive to improving the quality and methodology of our food processing industries. Oh yeah - and feeding the people of the world.

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Let's see. The Koch brothers support medical research (particularly cancer research) and the genetically modified medicines that are produced. Where is the outcry against GM medicines?

Let's see. Every hybrid plant is genetically modified. Why not an outcry against hybrid seed?

Let's see. There are 500,000 cases a year of blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency and 2,000,000 deaths. The genetically modified Golden Rice could offset much of that, but it is currently banned. The Koch brothers support this type of genetically modified research. They definitely should be stopped from their efforts. Yes?

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This is starting to sound like a Monsanto stockholders meeting. The bees are just one of the symptoms of excessive pesticide usage in the food chain, the other being all these anti-biotic treatments to the animals we eat. But the bees are trying to tell us something important and the results of ignoring this message is alarming.

They spray the grass here in Florida in an attempt to keep down the mosquito population. I guess it works but I also see dead bees on the sidewalk after they spray. There must be some chemical imbalance that kills them off and makes them poisonous because not even the lizards will eat the dead bees.

Do corporations also do good things with their products...well, sure they do. But in fifty years will we remember the good when the bad overwhelms us? My point is that it sometimes takes generations to discover what we are doing is wrong and in many cases we are dependent on the major players to tell us when something has gone awry. Cigarette companies would be just one example, the other would be the big pharmaceutical companies. Do we believe those folks now?

As tax payers we depend on government to help us understand the ins and outs of all these new products in our environment, and they don't do the job when lobbyists get involved. We have the best government money can buy...but unfortunately it is not our money they are taking.

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Change is always dangerous. When the use of painkillers during birth was first introduced, there were lots of scare stories about how we didn't know what the impact would be on the newborn child and therefore we shouldn't do it.

The first 'test-tube' baby was another that raised lots of ethical questions about whether it was right. Similarly, for same-sex adoption. Cloning and stem-cells are more recent examples of medical advances that raise ethical questions.

That doesn't mean that the nay-sayers are wrong. Look at the thalidomide tragedy for an example of how good intentions went terribly wrong for a large number of people. Similarly for asbestos, the use of lead in paints, mercury appearing in the food chain (fish, in particular)...the list goes on.

Some change can't be evaluated beforehand. Same-sex adoption is an example of that. You can't evaluation the effect on the child of having two mothers or two fathers unless you allow some same-sex couples to adopt.

Some changes are good. Some are bad. Some are indifferent. Most are mixed -- they have both good and bad elements. Sadly, we often don't find out about the bad elements until it's too late. Then it becomes an issue of whether the bad can be managed and if the good outweighs the bad. As an example, thalidomide is still used today, even though it harmed a lot of people. That's because when used appropriately (now that we know what is appropriate use), it still does a good job.

Genetically modified crops have a lot of promise for both good and bad. Farming techniques involves large amounts of chemicals have a lot of promise for both good and bad. I'm still watching to see which one dominates: the good or the bad.

Unfortunately, at the moment we have to go with one or the other, or both, because the world population requires intensive farming techniques to ensure an adequate food supply. While organic farming has a niche market, it's not possible to feed the current population purely off organic farming -- that approach doesn't produce high enough yields. Are the two main approaches flawless? Of course not. Will they do more harm than good in the long term? The jury is still out...

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For the record, Chris, I don't own any stock in Monsanto or any other chemical company. So if I'm at a Monsanto stockholders meeting, I sneaked in.

We can agree on one thing you said: "ees are trying to tell us something important..." No argument there. Nature has all sorts of methods for slapping us up against the side of the head. But to jump from that to "[T]he Koch Brothers are killing the source of your food supply..." is pretty sloppy logic.

You point out, for example, in your discussion of mosquitos and bees that "There must be some chemical imbalance that kills them off and makes them poisonous because not even the lizards will eat the dead bees." Rather alarming, unless you visit http://www.whatdolizardseat.info/where you can learn, " It's important to remember that lizards love a good chase and will often reject food that is already dead." Oops.

Have you contacted the local health department (or whomever sprays for mosquitos) and asked what they use? Asked them whether it has an impact on bees as well as skeeters? Asked them if they could use something else? Or told them you would be content to live with the mosqitos if it means one less poison in the environment?

Do you have proposals that can provide alternatives to chemicals in food production? Let's hear them. We have some local stores that carry organic food products, but they generally cost at least 50% more (often much much more) and frankly lack the appearance that is at least one component of good eating. Can you solve the issue of producing quality products without blasting prices into the stratosphere? Do tell.

You credit the government as responsible for being our protector, which they are. But the greater threat to government doing its job is not the lobbyist, but a self-caused ill-informed populace willing to accept earnest but wrong arguments. It pays to become informed, lest we fall victim to every Chicken Little argument that the sky is falling.

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Pointing out the problems that overuse of chemical treatments to our environment cause is not something for any of us to be warned against. It is good to keep raising the public's consciousness. Companies like Monsanto and others are very aware of their public image. They want to make a profit -- it's why they're in business -- but realize they can be significantly hurt if the public sees them as a bad actors.

We do have a problem with chemicals meant to solve certain specific problems creating others. Look at the effects of fertilizers getting into the ground water, into rivers and lakes. They certainly have a beneficial effect on crops, but at what cost? Isn't it better to talk about this, warn about this? Isn't it possible by doing so the companies involved will do a little more research on their products? Perhaps steps can be taken to prevent or minimize some of these accidental effects. Without the public taking up this cause, it's very unlikely the companies will on their own.

So Chris, keep raising the flag and sounding the alarm, because some of us are listening.

C

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There is some interesting research on the subject from Newcastle University:

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cbe/about/news/item/bees-prefer-nectar-containing-pesticides-copy-copy

It seems bees can have the same addiction as smokers!!

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Perhaps the Germans have a better idea to keep from poisoning the food supply. Does anyone really believe that a chemical which kills weeds doesn't have some effect on the surrounding plants? Cancer develops by introducing foreign substances to the body and nothing is more foreign than a pesticide or herbicide. We need to see more of these in our agricultural fields.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/this-robot-kills-weeds-and-could-end-the-need-for-herbicides-on-farms/ar-BBnab95?li=BBgzzfc&ocid=LENDHP

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What's next, laser-shooting robots to identify pests on crops, zap them at a rate of ten per second, and do away with pesticides? I can just imagine the tiny red screen on the console reading 'Target Lock' before the zapping occurs.

The use of industrial robots is now in full force. This makes many, many industrial jobs obsolete. Stocking grocery shelves using robots, as mentioned, is certainly coming, and with it will disappear another number of medium-low-income jobs. In coming years, a college education will be even more important if one wants to be employable.

C

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What's next, laser-shooting robots to identify pests on crops, zap them at a rate of ten per second, and do away with pesticides? I can just imagine the tiny red screen on the console reading 'Target Lock' before the zapping occurs.

Actually Cole you are not that far away from the truth, I know of two research projects at the moment that are looking at using microbots to kill pests on plants - one of them is indeed using lasers to overheat the bugs. The big problem at the moment is getting them to recognise the difference between nasties and friendlies - it's all very well zapping you aphids but you don't want to harm you ladybird larva, they are aphid munching machines. There is already a field trial (more correctly a greenhouse trial) of a robotic system that can detect the presence of aphids and only spray the infected areas of plants.

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Chris - Tracked down yet another British study (University of Sussex) of bees and nicotinoids on, of all things, RT (Russian Television) at https://www.rt.com/news/bees-pesticides-pollen-study-553/. One of their findings, interestingly, is that bees working nicotinoid-laced plants actually bring less pollen back to the hive. This could point to plain starvation to help explain the mechanism for colony collapse.

I'm thinking this might suggest a disincentive for apiarists to rent their hives out to farmers who use the poisons if the findings can be widely reproduced. As a minimum, the hive owners could put a per-hive value to be covered by the farmers in the event of loss, and make the price a bit prohibitive. Market forces could then play a role.

Obviously, however, lots of study remains to be done. Hopefully soon, because the need for food is ever growing. Over the next 50 years, it will grow by another 2.5 billion (human) mouths to feed.

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There are 6-billion people on this planet, and to feed everyone, we must use genetically modified food and pesticides. Clearly, some of the chemicals used to obtain the food crops we need are killing bees as well as other necessary critters such as frogs etc. If we continue to live foolishly, the Earth just might have a system of re-setting or re-booting. We have reached a world population of 6-billion in approximately six or seven thousand years of recorded history. Could the human race have reached this stage of civilization in the past? If you park your car and let it sit for 10,000 years in Earth's weathering, nothing of it will remain at the end of 10,000 years. Add to the equation an ice age with grinding glaciers, and your car will not even leave a stain where it once sat. Frankly, contemplating this is depressing. The problem seems really much more serious than the collapse of bee hives and the disappearance of frogs. When you try to work out a theory of history for the past 100,000 years that explains the Sphinx, gobekli tepe, underwater cities off India and Sicily and Indonesia, one is left wondering whether Mother Earth has a system which allows it to re-boot to erase and expunge the damage done by humans. It depresses me, but we really have to confront these issues.

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Just to make things crazier, there's yet another study out, discussed on BBC today. (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34846629) The finding in this study is that the nicotinoids do have an impact on individual bees, but not on the colony as a whole. The colony simply produces more bees to make up for the loss. The problem, of course, is that the concern has been the poison's involvement in Colony Collapse Syndrome in which the colony does not recover. Just keeps getting stranger.

As to Chaynin's question: "[O]ne is left wondering whether Mother Earth has a system which allows it to re-boot to erase and expunge the damage done by humans." It most certainly does. And the dinosaurs were all erased in the middle of a major global temperature rise. Could it be heat-seeking asteroids?

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When you try to work out a theory of history for the past 100,000 years that explains the Sphinx, gobekli tepe, underwater cities off India and Sicily and Indonesia, one is left wondering whether Mother Earth has a system which allows it to re-boot to erase and expunge the damage done by humans. It depresses me, but we really have to confront these issues.

There is a strong argument amongst some exponents of the Gaia Theory that Gaia does have a re-boot function. The worrying thing is that we may be getting very close to triggering it.

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As an aside... Over the last few years I have noticed that PBS and more obviously NPR, now plays softball or shys away from important, serious and controversial issues, avoiding them in favor of corporate and government donors.

Keep in mind that PBS and NPR have become subject to Koch brother's largess.

Usually, a company or corporation that advertizes on TV, does so to improve their business through communication and product recognition.

The Koch Brothers, Kellogg Brown and Root, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all give money to public broadcasting.

Why? It is not to sell their products directly to the public because individuals do not buy their products. They fund public broadcasting to influence the message conveyed by "listener and viewer supported" content.

Influence plus a tax deduction..

Republicans and cost-cutters in Congress often threaten PBS with removal of funding.

Gone is the heroic muckraking that was once indicative of Public Broadcasting.

We need to look elsewhere...

I did watch the Koch Bros piece on PBS and considered it "softball" If the Koch Brothers objected, perhaps a little more money might quell the crisis.

It also gives PBS and out by allowing them to say, "We did a piece on the Koch Brothers."

Last year I was listening to an NPR piece about a new prison being built in New Hampshire..

They interview local residence who all thought it would be great because it would bring in jobs. NPR chimed in with optimism.

My question for NPR was why not build a university instead of a prison?

Online, I scanned to comments and found that I was not alone.

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As an aside... Over the last few years I have noticed that PBS and more obviously NPR, now plays softball or shys away from important, serious and controversial issues, avoiding them in favor of corporate and government donors.

Keep in mind that PBS and NPR have become subject to Koch brother's largess.

Usually, a company or corporation that advertizes on TV, does so to improve their business through communication and product recognition.

The Koch Brothers, Kellogg Brown and Root, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all give money to public broadcasting.

I'm just glad we have the BBC and Channel 4. Though at the moment there is a major battle going on to ensure that they have independent funding.

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