About time I got this blog going again as the bees are still dying and we’ve still not be able to finger the pesticide companies.
Some slightly encouraging news today from the British BeeKeepers’ Association that is has finally decided to ditch its endorsement of pesticide products five years after its secretive deal came to light.
But the statement it has put out to local associations makes it clear that it has no intention of severing links with the manufacturers of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees and whose sub-lethal effects on honeybees have yet to be measured. In fact the relationship may become even closer as BBKA president, Martin Smith, says:
“It is time to broaden the range of engagement with the crop protection industry beyond the narrow focus of endorsing certain products; rather to contribute more directly to the development of new regulatory criteria for pesticide approval and to further support the industry in the general move to improve countryside stewardship.”
Particularly shocking is the language that the BBKA is now using to describe the pesticide industry. It has adopted the industry’s own terminology, referring to it as the “crop protection” industry and “crop protection” companies and its lobby group calls itself the Crop Protection Association.
Phil Chandler who has continually campaigned against the BBKA’s endorsement policy is critical of the organisation for never speaking out against the pesticide industry when their products have been implicated in the killing of millions of bee worldwide.
“My interest in this is a strong personal belief that a charity constituted to protect the interests of bees should not accept money from corporations whose commercial interests include the sale of extremely toxic insecticides, proven to be lethal to bees, on the grounds that such transactions will inevitably influence BBKA policies and actions.”
David Ramsden, a member of Twickenham and Thames Valley Beekeepers’ Association, who has been at the forefront of challenging the BBKA policy. He got a motion against the policy put on the agenda at the BBKA annual delegates meeting earlier this year. He says:
“The policy of endorsement has diminished the BBKA. It has robbed of transparency of purpose. Until it is stopped, the motives of any action or pronouncement the BBKA makes on the topic of pesticides will be open to cynicism. Is this a position that any national organization should find itself in?”
In response to today’s statement Chandeler says:
“Far from distancing themselves from these corporations, they appear to be ever more willing to embrace them (and their vocabulary) and thus further compromise their ability to speak freely about the dangers to bees from agricultural pesticides.
For me, the ethical considerations trump everything. For an organisation purporting to be working in the interests of bees to publicly walk hand in hand with the manufacturers of the very substances that are killing bees, other insects, birds and ultimately entire food chains, as well as endangering public health, while failing in any way to support the organic movement, is utterly anathema. “
He has a number of suggested actions:
(a) Request the BBKA sever all financial ties with corporations that have any interest in the manufacture or sale of insecticides or other agricultural chemicals known to be toxic to bees
(b) Request that the BBKA give explicit support for the Soil Association and the organic movement in general for their efforts in creating more habitat for bees and other pollinators.
(c) Request complete electoral reform in the BBKA, requiring all such matters to be openly debated, publicly reported on and voted on by all members.
What do you think?