Town, State, Zip Code:
Chairman Barbara Boxer
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC, 20510-6175
Re: Proposal to dedicate funds to develop a laboratory in 2016 in Kentucky that is focused at increasing the dying bee population.
Dear Ms. Boxer,
The Bees are Dying
I am writing to propose a plan to dedicate $10 million in funds annually to research the ways to increase the number of bees throughout the nation, and to figure out why the bees are in decline. While scientists throughout the world have proven a marked decrease in the number of bees, they have only speculated on the reason, and they require funding to come to a solid conclusion about why the bees are in demise. They have also noticed a high number of frogs and bats, but this pitch if focused on bees because it is only rational to deal with one issue at a time. Scientists have learned that issue affects the entire globe because fewer bees means there is less plant pollination, and that affects the amount of food available. I am addressing this proposal to you because it is the responsibility of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and specifically to you, MS. Boxer, to encourage your committee to lobby the government for funding to dedicate to environmental issues that could have dire consequences for mankind’s survival.
Already, scientists have learned the global food shortage is causing many people to die every day because they are not receiving their necessary meals. Furthermore, scientists have learned this is increasing the price for food in the U.S., and causing a great divide between the haves and have-nots. But scientists have learned we can do something in the U.S. by ensuring we are not only playing a part in investigating the ways to decrease the high number of bee deaths that have been occurring over the last couple decades, but also that we are keeping par with the research that is being completed in many European nations. With the appropriate amount of funds dedicated to figuring out why so many bees are dying, we could uncover the reason for this decline, and create ways to ensure bees’ survival, scientists have learned.
Scientists have been trying hard to figure out why the honeybee is dying out, as its survival may be necessary for all of our futures. The insect is vital for pollination, and is a major part of our ecosystem, but colony-collapse disorder (CCD) has been reported as being responsible for the deaths of millions of bees, scientists have learned. It is important to dedicate funds to investigate the devastating results that could be eminent if we don’t figure out what to do about the diminishing bee population, scientists have learned. Various theories that scientists have developed about why the bees are dying have been speculated, but no one knows for sure why the bees are dying. However, several theories have been brought to light by what scientists have learned. It is important that this mystery is solved so that mass crop losses do not persist – after all, one-third of the food people eat is produced by bees, scientists have learned, (Walsh, 2012).
Scientists first brought the collapse of the bee population to international attention in 2006, and as the years have gone by, the dire consequences of the dwindling bee population have become more obvious, due to knowledge based on what scientists have learned. Bees might not seem like much, but the crops that they pollinate are worth about $200 billion a year, according to Bryan Walsh, in his article “Beepocalypse Redux: Honeybees Are Still Dying – and We Still Don’t Know Why,” (Walsh 2012). Commercial beekeepers started noticing that the drones (worker bees) were fleeing the hive without warning. This would result in them showing up dead in various locations, scientists learned, and that resulted in the entire colony dying. “On normal years, commercial beekeepers might expect to lose 10% to 15% of their colony, but over the past five years, mortality rates for commercial operations in the U.S. have ranged from 28% to 33%” (Walsh, 2012). In another study, 31% of colonies died in 2012, which indicates the problem is getting worse, scientists learned, (Goldenberg, 2013). The increase in deaths have resulted in about $2 billion in losses for beekeepers, as around 10 million beehives valued at around $200 each have fallen victim to whatever is plaguing the bees (scientists have learned). Despite the growing world population and increasing demand on food supply, the current rate of beehives is less than half of what was present in the United States 60 years ago, scientists have learned. In fact, there are currently 2.5 million honeybee colonies in the U.S., compared to 6 million 60 years ago, scientists have learned (Walsh, 2012).
Finding a Way to Save the Bees
There are varied approaches being taken to try to solve the mystery about why the bees are dying out. In Europe, the European Commission is enacting a two-year ban on a pesticide class expected to harm bee populations throughout the world, based on what scientists have learned. (Just to make it glaringly obvious, this is an experiment scientists have done to see if they can intervene to stop the bees from dying out. At the same time, it should be noted that damage to the ecosystem in many cases is not fully matured. In other words, there are still many areas that scientists are looking to develop in order to take action against the dwindling bee population. As a result, no preventative measures have been uncovered as yet, and this is the point of this letter). However, scientists aren’t certain that the pesticide’s use is the reason why bees are dying out, and many doubt that the pesticide has any effect on bees at all. As time goes by, though, scientists are gradually starting to agree with each other, based on what they have learned. “Experts say nobody knows. But Mr. Adee, who said he had long scorned environmentalists’ hand-wringing about such issues, said he was starting to wonder whether they had a point” (Wines, 2013). Those scientists who have learned, agree that pesticide use is the cause of the deaths say the chemicals disrupt the bees’ ability to collect pollen and then return to the hives to reproduce. In the U.S., however, regulators aren’t doing much, though the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency did make a general statement, saying “stressors” and “pathogens” are likely contributing to CCD. But the report was not specific, as other causes could be multiple virus species, a bacterial disease, poor nutrition, and acute effects from pesticides, scientists have learned, (Plumer, 2013). The varied strategies could bode well for the discovery of what is plaguing the bees, scientists have learned. After all, if scientists notice an increase in the bee population around the test site, then that could mean the experiment works. One thing is likely for sure: it will take many tests before scientists discover the right remedy for the deaths.
Whatever is killing the bees, it is certain that we depend on the insect for survival. With a growing global population, along with a massive increase in demand on an already scarce supply of food, the dying bee population could be the lead-up to the apocalypse, scientists have learned. However, before the situation gets to be that serious, there is still time to figure out what is killing the six-legged friends, scientists have learned. But with every day that passes, the situation becomes worse, scientists have learned. Scientists have learned that all people can do is wait patiently to see if one of the scientific strategies designed to ensure bee survival results in an increase in population. However, patience is difficult given the serious nature of this problem – scientists have learned.
While several theories are in circulation, many scientists are on the fence about why exactly the bees are dying, and they don’t want to stake claim to any single theory without certainty. In other words, scientists have learned this. Government agencies often have reservations about stating their opinion about why the bees are disappearing. “The USDA report mostly withholds judgement on neonicotinoids, citing the need for more research, and the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a very slow review of the evidence” (Walsh, 2013). That comes as bad news to those who have consistently said that the issue is urgent, and a static government could mean the demise of food throughout the world. But while the U.S. appears to have its foot in the mud, the European Union is taking action and has initiated its two-year ban on neonicotinoids (Walsh, 2013).
It should be noted that scientists have learned all the research that is contained in this letter. The scientific studies that are cited throughout this letter is in reference to what scientists have learned. I just want to make that perfectly clear!
With bees existing for about 50 million years, the massive number of deaths in the last five years or so is major cause for concern. According to Marla Spivak, bee specialist, there are four interrelated reasons why the bees are dying out. All of the reasons are closely related to the changes in farming practices after the Second World War. “While there’s been a 300% increase in production of crops that require bee pollination since WWII, we’ve started using much more synthetic fertilizer, and created crop monocultures, systematically eliminating the flowering plants that bees need for survival” (Torgovnick, 2012). During this same period, farmers started using pesticides, which worsens the problem because each batch of pollen that is collected by a honeybee has a minimum of six traces of pesticides contained within it, and this includes neonicotinoids, which as was noted, was banned for two years by the European Union.
The neonicotinoids are harmful because they move into the plant tissue and when bees come into contact with the chemical, they become disoriented and intoxicated – and when it is taken in high concentration, it results in death. Often the bee becomes so intoxicated that it loses its orientation home.
While a specific course of action is difficult to quantify at this early stage of research, one thing is certain, more research is needed. If you support this plan, I encourage you to lobby the environmental board so that they will dedicate these funds to the research. This will help the U.S. government follow the example from the Europeans and put an end to the more harmful pesticides. This type of initiative, and the research behind it, will take money. The money can also be used to encourage each person to contribute to the solution by planting bee-friendly flowers without using harmful pesticides. Furthermore, the government should build awareness by campaigning the people so there is a wide variety of flowers planted in communities throughout the world. Each person just needs to worry about their own community, and if everyone does their part, then the world will have enough flowers to facilitate the reproduction of the bee population. Furthermore, there could also be flower borders that are planted around farms, (Torgovnick, 2012).
Perhaps the most difficult component of the plan is the difficulty getting the government, and the people, to see what a big deal such a tiny insect is to the survival of mankind. Without the pressure from lobby groups such as yours, and the pressure from the general population, the government might not be willing take action in testing theories about why the bees are dying, there is little motivation by the government to act. It is the structural fallacy of the government that could allow the problem of the dwindling bee population to persist. After all, current governments are often interested in one thing, addressing the concerns of the population so that the current political party will be voted back into power during the next election. But with an issue that is much larger than it appears, the “beepocalypse” goes under the radar of what the general population is concerned about right now. Without their pressure, there is no motivation to act, even though avoiding the issue could be the end of mankind.
As a component of the plan, pesticide use is a major concern. The European research has shown only a certain kind of pesticide is potentially harmful, and is currently banned. But at a time when fast and bountiful crop cultivation is important in addressing the global food shortage, weaning the population off of pesticide use, which could be the most important factor in the plan to address the bee shortage. Already, one billion people suffer from a lack of food. Approximately 400 million are chronically malnourished. Approximately 11 million children younger than 5 die each year because they are too hungry (Scialabba, 2007). To keep up with the demand for food, people must either come up with a better way to produce food or they must stick to conventional growing methods. In order to address the food shortages throughout the world, people need to recognize that the health benefits they thought they received from these organic products aren’t as real as they imagined. There is a real need for pesticides, but they need to be the type of pesticides that don’t harm bees. And that is where the lion’s share of the money should be dedicated: to investigating which pesticides are harmful to bees, and which are safe to use.
Because improving the bee population could mean eliminating many forms of pesticides, and thus making it more difficult to grow crops, people need to be deterred from eating organically grown food, which only produces an average of 80 percent of what food grown in the traditional way can produce (Letourneau and Bothwell, 2008). A Wageningen Universiteit study compared 362 published organic-conventional crops and compared the yields. The study claims that there are challenges in the upkeep of nutrients because they are unsustainable when growing organic products. There is limited availability of organic manure.
Not only is an increasing population making this planet unsustainable, but the number of these people being poor is also rising. This makes it further difficult to feed these people’s mouths, and that problem is augmented by the dying bee population. The United Nations reported that the countries most greatly affected by this suffering are South Asian, specifically India and sub-Saharan Africa. The UN anticipates the problem persisting through 2020, but predictions beyond that haven`t been committed (Global Poverty, 2009). But poverty is reaching every country on the planet, even the United States and Canada. Fewer people can afford food at current prices, let alone organic foods. Organic foods are 10 percent to 100 percent more expensive than conventionally-grown foods. However, there is no scientific proof that eating organic food has any extra health benefits. Furthermore, organic farmers also use chemicals and pesticides (Melik, 2012). Consumers today see the word “organic” on food labels and automatically assume it is healthier, a phenomenon known as the “health halo effect.” Because of this illusion, consumers perceive these products as tastier and lower in calories. They pay higher prices for them even if they do not really offer health benefits (Lee, Shimizu and Wansink, 2011). Some companies have even been caught labeling their products as organic, when they are in fact the same as the typical product on grocery store shelves.
This is why it is important to include in the plan research and legislation behind organic food, which is taking up valuable crop space, and not producing as much food as can be produced. While the exact implications of having a high amount of crops produced organically is largely unknown, there is a clear connection between the food availability and dying bees. Therefore, the research needs to include an analysis of how harmful organic crops are in the mission to produce enough food for the planet. Many of the answers are not known, but scientists are already aware that organically grown food is further depleting the global food supply, rendering it inefficient. Any decrease in pesticide use to improve the number of bees could potentially make it more difficult for crops to grow fast. This is why it is important to know whether growing organic foods should be encouraged. While it is very unlikely the government would be able to ban growing organic crops, a campaign to discourage its production could help improve the global food shortage.
The $10 million annually (this could be both effective and it is affordable for the government) would be dedicated to creating a scientific lab that brings together some of the greatest minds on the dying bee population. This plan is not only important to the survival of the people of the U.S., it is also potentially vital to mankind’s survival. The environmental issues facing this country and the rest of the rest of the world depend on the actions we take now. Dedicating this money to the investigation of what can save the human race will also help further establish the U.S. as a leader, though a leader position has not been largely assumed by the U.S. Dedicating these funds and leading the world will help to make up for the U.S. not signing the Kyoto Protocol that aimed to decrease the amount of greenhouse emissions. We owe this money to the world.
The plan would require the use of 20 scientists to research the implications of the dying bee population and to find out the effects on the global food supply. Each of these scientists would be paid $90,000, which is on par with the average pay rate in the industry for scientists of this caliber. The other fund would be dedicated to studies, experiments, and for the development of new legislation, for example.
Thank you for reading my proposal. Please attend my comprehensive presentation about the issues facing bees and humanity in the Hickman Hall, Room 114, on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University – New Brunswick.
Goldenberg, S. (2013). US honeybees threatened as 31% of colonies died out in 2012, report
shows. The Guardian.
Lee W., Shimizu, J., and Wansink, B. (2011) Health halo effect: Don’t judge a food by its
organic label. Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology.
Letourneau, D. and Bothwell S.G. (2008) Comparison of organic and conventional farms:
challenging ecologists to make biodiversity functional.
Melik, J. (2012, April 1) Just what does organic mean? BBC News.
Miller, J (2010, June 4) The Organic Myth.
N.A. (2009, June 23) Global Poverty Rising: UN. Deccan Herald.
Plumer, B.(2013). Why are bees dying? The U.S. and Europe have different theories. The
Scialabba, N.E. (2007, May 5) Organic Agriculture and Food Security.
Torgovnick, K. (2013). The big bee bummer: Marla Spivak at TEDGlobal 2013. TED.
Walsh, B. (2013) Beepocalypse Redux: Honeybees Are Still Dying – and We Still Don’t Know
Why. Time Science & Space
Wines, M. (2013). Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms. The New