March 30, 2016 | by Cherise Hoak | Wicked Local Westport News
It seems as though the divide between the beekeepers and the state is still growing and the big elephant in the room is the use of pesticide poisoning.
Although the beekeepers have seen firsthand the effects of the pesticides on their hives, it seems the state is still in denial when it comes to the truth.
Currently, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is attempting to adopt a “Pollinator Protection Plan” and is holding “listening” sessions in various locations in order to get input from the various beekeepers and farmers that this plan would impact.
The beekeepers, on one hand, have written up their own “Pollinator Protection Plan” and are asking the state to adopt their plan instead of what the state is trying to implement. Each plan has its own merits and each group thinks their plan is for the best practice. It does not seem, in the long run, that either side will get anywhere in the near future.
On March 21, MDAR held one of its “listening” sessions at Bristol Aggie and invited those interested to come and talk so that MDAR could listen and take notes on their concerns regarding the draft plan by the state.
Several beekeepers came to this meeting along with the superintendent-director of Bristol Aggie, and many of the beekeepers voiced their concerns regarding the lack of regulation regarding pesticide usage, which is one of the main problems facing the beekeepers to date. Without concrete proof that pesticides, namely neonicotinoids, are the cause of bee die-offs, the state’s regulations fall short in protecting the bees and beekeepers from hive losses.
The beekeepers have tried and continue to try to get the state’s attention on this matter, especially when they have perfect hives one day only to find thousands upon thousands of dead and dying bees in front of their hives the next day.
The beekeepers have done what is expected of them by calling in the state’s apiary inspector when this occurs.
But according to some of the beekeepers, nothing has come out of this reporting to their satisfaction.
From what I gathered at this “listening” session, the state has not provided or cannot provide concrete proof that the bee die-offs are directly related to pesticide poisoning. One way or the other, the burden of proof should lie on the state and should be mandated by the state to prove that pesticides are harmful to our pollinators.
The beekeepers, as I have seen firsthand, have already seen the destruction of these poisons on their beehives. And you have to ask yourself, if other countries around the world are banning these pesticides from being used and now some of the states in the United States, most recent being Maryland, are banning these pesticides, then why is Massachusetts not doing their due diligence in helping both the farmers and beekeepers alike in finding the truth.
My only concern in this matter came unexpectedly in the “listening” session on March 21 when the superintendent of Bristol Aggie spoke up and was the only person in this meeting to have doubts on the validity of the pesticide damage to the bees. But then again, if your school is partnering with Monsanto on the “AG and STEM” Symposium (http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/education.aspx), I guess you have no choice in the matter with regards to the educational value that you might be getting from one of the biggest chemical companies.
As for the farmers, I have great respect for them and I firmly believe that they are not intentionally harming the bees. They, of all people involved, have more to lose than anyone else in this game of chemicals and money.
My biggest concern is that the chemicals provided to the general public are one of the most dangerous things that could ever have happened. This is like boxing up hand grenades and selling them as gopher removal and telling the public it’s safe to use!
Until the state puts regulations on these chemicals that are so readily available to the public, in my opinion, I think the farmers are going to continue to get blamed for the bee kills instead of handing the blame directly to those that sell the pesticides to the public and to the independent contractors who have no knowledge on how to use them let alone when the proper time is to use them. Until such time as all parties can come to an agreement on the danger of pesticides, efforts first and foremost should be toward educating our public on the dangers of pesticides and the proper use of them.