Vanishing of the Bees 2010 Documentary
“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” – Saint John Chrysostom
Colony Collapse Disorder is the canary in the coal mine of our food supply system. Are we going to listen to this grave warning? Seed and Chemical companies control food production and government subsidies.
“We’re in a war somewhat and we’re going to lose a percentage of our troops consistently. We’re going to keep fighting.” – David Mendez Beekeeper 7,000 hives from Fort Myers, Florida
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” – Cree Indian Proverb
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” – Albert Einstein
CODE ON PESTICIDES URGED FOR NATION By PHILIP SHABECOFF, Special to the New York Times Published: May 21, 1987
The nation’s food supply is inadequately protected from cancer-causing pesticides, according to a report issued today by the National Academy of Sciences.
The report, requested by the Environmental Protection Agency, found that a ”crazy-quilt” of laws and regulations governing allowable residues of carcinogenic insecticides, herbicides and fungicides was permitting relatively high levels of some of these chemicals on or in foods reaching the consumer.
It did not attempt to describe the probable risk of cancer caused by these levels, but it recommended that the Government adopt a new uniform standard for residues of new and old pesticides on both fresh and processed foods. It recommended allowing a ”negligible” risk of no more than one cancer case per million people over a lifetime of exposure, saying that such a standard could reduce dietary cancer risks from pesticides by 98 percent. Impact on Regulation
Carrying out the report’s recommendations would require policy changes by the E.P.A. and probably in some cases changes in the laws governing pesticides. John A. Moore, the E.P.A. assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances, said that the agency would make careful use of the report’s recommendations, which he said were sound and reasonable.
The report is cautiously worded and technical, but the fact that it acknowledges undefined deficiences in protection from cancer-causing substances in foods makes it a potentially explosive document.
Environmental and consumer groups said that the study underestimated the risks because it included only 28 of the 53 chemicals identified by the E.P.A. as possible causes of cancer in human beings that are used on food crops and omitted other factors, including the presence of these pesticides in drinking water.
There was general agreement, however, that the report made a persuasive case for changing the way that pesticides were regulated.
Jeffrey Nedelman, vice president for public affairs of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, an association of food companies, said that his organization endorsed the concept of a single uniform standard allowing a minimum pesticide risk on foods. He noted that the Food and Drug Administration has been following such a procedure in carrying out the law, although its practice has been challenged in court.
Members of the panel that wrote the report, as well as spokesmen for the E.P.A. and industry, emphasized that the numbers used to describe current risks of cancer from pesticides in foods were theoretical ”worst case” estimates and that actual risks to consumers were much lower.
Ray Thornton, president of the University of Arkansas, who is chairman of the committee that prepared the report, emphasized that it ”does not address actual exposure to pesticide residues,” and added: ”Nor does it comment on the safety of individual foods. It does not suggest any change in eating habits.” E.P.A. Request for Report
The National Academy is a private, nonprofit group chartered by Congress. The E.P.A. asked it to prepare the report two years ago. While the report’s findings and recommendations are likely to be debated sharply, they may also provoke changes in the way the nation deals with dangerous chemicals in its food supplies. Last year Congress narrowly failed to pass major changes in the pesticide law and this Congress is currently preparing to try again.
The immediate controversy generated by the report, however, involved the numbers it used to describe the risks of pesticides on food.
The report listed 15 foods, starting with tomatoes, beef and potatoes, that presented the greatest ”worst case” risk of cancer because of the presence of 28 specified chemical pesticides, based on the theoretical worst case estimates. According to these estimates, 8.75 of every 10,000 people eating tomatoes over a theoretical 70-year lifetime will develop cancer from the pesticide residues. For beef the risk is 6.49 cancers per 10,000 people, and for potatoes the risk is 5.21 cases of cancer.
In order, other foods in the list of 15 with the greatest cancer risk are: oranges, lettuce, apples, peaches, pork, wheat, soybeans, beans, carrots, chicken, corn and grapes.
In regulating other cancer hazards, the environmental agency often will permit a risk of no more than one in a million. But agency officials take the view that the law requires them to consider other factors, including the benefits of pesticide use, as well as health risks. ‘Theoretical Maximum Risk’
Mr. Moore emphasized that the numbers of the report represented a ”theoretical maximum risk,” adding, ”Where we do get actual data, the numbers come way down.”
The academy report, Mr. Moore said, shows that while ”the American food supply is wholesome and safe, at the same time, it can be improved.”
Charles J. Carey, president of the National Food Processors Association, an industry group, said, ”In the real world, where we live and operate, the risks reported do not exist.”
”Years of testing by our laboratories and others show conclusively that consumers need not worry about pesticide residues in foods,” the industry spokesman said.
But Lawrie Mott, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, said that the report ”graphically illustrates the fundamental problem of pesticides in our food.”
Using the worst-case risk estimates, she said, the number of cancer cases caused by the 28 pesticides in this country is 1.46 million over the 70-year lifetime exposure. But she added that the risk numbers ”significantly understate” the perils of cancer to consumers because many cancer-causing pesticides are not included in the estimates, because contaminated drinking water is not included and because there is a serious lack of adequate information about the health effects of many of the older pesticides that were approved for use before adequate testing methods were developed.
”But the issue is not if the numbers are correct,” she said. ”The issue is how to correct the problem.” Regulation of Pesticides
Pesticides are regulated under both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. One section of the Food and Drug law, called the Delaney clause, after a former Democratic Representative, James J. Delaney, prohibits any amount of cancer-causing substances in processed foods or raw foods that are to be processed. Chemical pesticides tend to accumulate in processed foods.
But raw foods that are not processed are permitted to contain specific levels of cancer-causing pesticides in cases where economic benefits can be shown. The report found that 45 percent of the nation’s food supply was not subject to regulation under the Delaney clause. It also found that the E.P.A. had failed to impose the restrictions of the clause on pesticides that had been on the market for many years.
Under the law, new chemicals are subject to more stringent regulation than old chemicals. The E.P.A. is retesting the older chemicals and imposing stronger restrictions on them, but the process is very slow and, at the current rate, will not be completed until the next century.
The academy report found that 98 percent of the cancer risk from pesticides came from chemicals registered for use before 1978. It also found that a large proportion of the cancer risk came from chemicals used to kill funguses on crops. Disparity in Impact of Rules
The report argued that the regulatory process as it now exists tended to keep relatively safer new pesticides off the market because of the more stringent requirements.
As an example it cited the case of a new fungicide called Fosetyl Al developed for use on hops. The agency found that residues of the new fungicide had a ”weak” cancer-causing effect that would produce one cancer for every 100 million people exposed over a lifetime and cited the Delaney clause to keep it off the market. But the risks of this fungicide are ”several magnitudes” less than fungicides currently and legally used on hops that presented cancer risks of as high as one in 100,000.
A single uniform standard for all foods that permitted a risk of cancer from pesticides of no more than one in a million would virtually eliminate the dietary risk from the 28 major pesticides, the study contended. Strict enforcement of the Delaney clause for processed food would eliminate only slightly more than half the existing cancer risk because it would not protect raw foods, the report said.
While setting a ”zero risk standard’ prohibiting any cancer-causing substances in any foods could theoretically remove the threat of cancer in the food supply entirely, the disruptive impacts of such a decision could impede efforts to reduce the cancer risk, the report said. Moreover, Mr. Thornton said, ”pesticides are essential to our agricultural productivity” and policies should not be adopted that would ”jeopardize our goal of providing an adequate and economic food supply for the American public.”
Industry officials said that cancer risks from pesticides in foods were much lower than than other cancer risks routinely faced by most people. They cited a recent report by Bruce N. Ames of the University of California at Berkeley, and others, which found that natural cancer-causing agents in foods, such as afflotoxin in peanut butter, presented a much higher risk than pesticides.
But Charles M. Benbrook, executive director of the National Academy’s Board on Agriculture, which oversaw preparation of the report, disputed the conclusions of the Ames report, saying they did not take into account of ”the most recent and complete data.”
The Academy committee that prepared the new report included a total of 17 academic scientists, corporate executives, lawyers and other experts.
Who funds the research in the US? The manufacturers do. The EPA does not do the research. It is submitted to them by the corporations.
Chemical Industry’s Influence at EPA Probed By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008
A congressional committee is investigating ties between the chemical industry and expert review panels hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to help it determine safe levels for a variety of chemical compounds.
Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee, have demanded documents from the EPA and the American Chemistry Council to probe the roles of nine scientists who are serving on EPA panels or have done so in the past.
The lawmakers sent a letter to the chemical industry Wednesday, expanding a probe that began earlier this month.
“Americans count on sound science to ensure that consumer products are safe,” Dingell said through a spokesman yesterday. “If industry has undue influence over this science, then the public’s health is endangered.”
Dingell and Stupak want to know how much the chemistry council has paid consultants, lawyers, scientists and a scientific journal in efforts to affect public policy.
“I don’t remember the last time Congress investigated a trade association like this,” said Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group, which contends that the chemical industry has stacked EPA panels. “Maybe for the first time, we might find out the extent of industry influence. It’s a landmark investigation and has called into question the ethics of the entire industry.”
Tiffany Harrington, a spokeswoman for the chemistry council, said it supports independent scientific research and it will cooperate with the congressional request.
The lawmakers want to know why the EPA allowed the scientists in question to remain on expert panels but removed a public health scientist, Deborah C. Rice, from a panel at the chemistry council’s request.
Rice chaired an EPA panel last year that reviewed safe levels for deca-BDE, a polybrominated diphenyl ether used as a fire retardant in television casings and other electronics. Deca has been found to cause cancer in mice and is a suspected human carcinogen.
As a toxicologist for the state of Maine, Rice testified before the Maine legislature about the health risks associated with deca. Maine and several other states — and this week, the European Union — have since banned the compound.
After Rice’s panel completed its work, Sharon Kneiss, a vice president of the chemistry council, wrote to the EPA and called Rice “a fervent advocate of banning” deca who “has no place in an independent, objective peer review.” The agency informed Rice that it was removing her from the panel, and it expunged her comments from the official record, even removing them from the EPA Web site.
The Chemistry Council “seems to argue that scientific expertise with regard to a particular chemical and its human health effects is a basis for disqualification from a peer review board,” Dingell and Stupak wrote to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “This does not seem sensible on its face.”
At the same time, the EPA has allowed at least nine scientists who have received funding from chemical makers or expressed similar opinions about particular chemical compounds to remain on review panels, Dingell and Stupak wrote.
Among those scientists is Dale Sickles, who serves on a panel reviewing acrylamide. He received $93,000 from the manufacturer of the compound and $230,000 from its marketer. “I’ve been totally transparent throughout the process,” Sickles said yesterday.
Four other scientists reached yesterday said that industry funding never influenced their research.
Scientists invited to participate in review panels are asked to disclose any conflicts or perceived conflicts. EPA guidelines say that conflicts do not automatically disqualify an expert but that the agency should make sure the panel has a balance of viewpoints.
Timothy Lyons, an EPA spokesman, said privacy issues prevent the agency from commenting on Rice or the scientists singled out by the congressional investigation. But the agency followed procedures in selecting panel members, he said.
Rice, who has declined to comment, has become a cause celebre among Bush administration critics, who say her case is symbolic of undue industry influence in public health regulation under President Bush.
“This is an administration that has put corporate interests before public health and safety, and ideological zealotry before sound science,” Dingell said. “This disturbing pattern extends to EPA’s peer review panels.”
Colony Collapse Disorder was also occurring in France. The Beekeepers united, hired a lawyer, filed a class action lawsuit, obtained scientific proof and got results.
“We suspended the use of Gracho (Bayer’s systemic pesticide) because it is our job to protect the environment. After hearing about the losses the beekeepers were suffering, I decided to ban it.” – Sec of Ag of France.
Update – “In regions where new products were not applied to crops the bees bounced back within a year. The future of the bee, like water and energy, will define the ability of man to live on the planet.” – President of Beekeepers Association.
“We cannot change the problem with the same mindset that have caused it. Our mindset has to undergo a great transformation.” – Albert Einstein