What Do GMO Seeds Have to Do With Bee Die-Offs in the Corn Belt?
In the last few weeks beekeepers have reported staggering losses in Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio after their hives foraged on pesticide-treated corn fields. Indiana too, two years ago. What’s going on in the Corn Belt?
No farmer in their right mind wants to poison pollinators. When I spoke with one Iowa corn farmer in January and told him about the upcoming release of a Purdue study confirming corn as a major pesticide exposure route for bees, his face dropped with worn exasperation. He looked down for a moment, sighed and said,
“You know, I held out for years on buying them GE [genetically modified or engineered] seeds, but now I can’t get conventional seeds anymore. They just don’t carry ‘em.”
This leaves us with two questions: 1) What do GE seeds have to do with neonicotinoids and bees? and 2) How can an Iowa corn farmer find himself feeling unable to farm without poisoning pollinators? In other words, where did U.S. corn cultivation go wrong?
The short answer to both questions starts with a slow motion train wreck that began in the mid-1990s: Corn integrated pest management (IPM) fell apart at the seams. Rather, it was intentionally unraveled by Bayer and Monsanto.
Comment: To learn more about the serious negative impact of pesticide use among bee populations and the growing issue of ‘colony collapse disorder’ read the following articles:
Silent Hives: Colony Collapse Disorder and Pesticides
More Evidence Rises Of Role Pesticides Play In Bee Colony Collapse
Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder Finally Explained: Too Many Chemicals
A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees?
Bayer in the Dock Over Pesticide Linked to Colony Collapse Disorder
If Bees Disappear, We’ll All Be Stung