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Plight of the Pollinators

Bees and butterflies are disappearing at an alarming rate.  But who really cares and why should they?  Let’s see.  Pollinators are the little things that let plants reproduce.  Plants in turn support the vast majority of life on this planet – including ours.  So that’s the only reason you should need to care.


But also know that the vast array of plants that we and other living things depend on are all pollinated in equally diverse ways.  What this means is that the pollinators must also be diverse.  There are probably close to 30,000 species of bees alone!  Of all those bee species, only a handful are managed by man for honey and pollination.

But let’s face it – check out google or bing for news on disappearing insects.  You will hear about monarch butterflies because they are large, beautiful and recognizable, and you will hear about bees because of their economic importance.  But realize that as we look at these two famous insects there are literally tens of thousands of others that have already disappeared while others are disappearing without being recognized.

By and large the culprit appears to be a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

This is a group of poisons developed for use on genetically modified crops.  As a biologist I have had a tendency to look the other way at genetic modification – we have managed food species for generation and in so doing modified their genetics.  But now this tool is used to own our sources of food and to make them resistant to poisons that normally would be damaging to them.  But we have to realize that they have not made pollinators resistant to their poisons and as importantly you and I are not resistant to their poisons.

We can no longer look the other way.  In fairness groups like Monsanto are not doing this with the intention of poisoning us.  They did not intend to wipe out pollinators.  They were driving by two widely accepted behaviors.  The desire to earn even more money and to do by producing more food for people.  The money is rolling in and until it stops, they will keep going.  Therefore, if nothing else works, vote with your wallet.  By that I mean support your small local organic farmers.  It assures you of better food, a smaller carbon footprint, a fun new relationship with a farmer!  More importantly, it cuts off the blood supply to those poisoning our world.  Take their money away – and remember – they will only change if you will change.  On this there is no argument with Ghandi – “be the change you wish to see in the world”