Friday, April 27, 2007

When in doubt blame technology.

Cole Porter wrote a song with the phrase “bees do it” but of late bees haven’t been doing a lot of anything except dying. The bees leave their colonies and never return. This was labeled “colony collapse disorder”.

Of course there are those who have certain axes to grind who immediately had the culprits they wanted to focus attention upon. Well, the Organic Consumers Association ran a headline on their web site claiming: “Pesticides May Cause Bees to Forget Location of Hive.” In addition they said: “There is also concern that some genetically modified crops may be producing pollen or nectar that is problematic for the bees...”

The media I had read said the disappearing bees were a mystery. So I was curious as to why some environmental groups and food faddists were so quick to blame pesticide or GE crops.

The Sierre Club sent a letter to Senator Tom Harkin demanding that an investigation into how “exposure to genetically engineered crops and their plant-produced pesticides” are “the cause or contributory factor” in Colony Collapse Disorder. They imply that GE crops may be causing a form of AIDS for bees and want more regulation of GE crops.

Ron Bailey at Reason found this letter quite strange since studies the Sierre Club referenced didn’t actually back up their fantasies. And he noted that the problem was also appearing in Europe that prides itself on being scientific Neanderthals who are “biotech free”.

So without GE to blame what did the anti-tech crowd in Europe do? They blamed cellphones. The Independent in the UK claimed that there is evidence that cellphones interfere “with bees’ navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives.” One man who has been attacking cell phones for year, Dr. George Carlo, insisted that “the possibility is real” that cell phones are to blame. As to be expected the paper concentrated on a handful of flawed studies ignoring the bigger studies completely.

The obvious reason the cellphone theory was flawed from the start was that they have been around for years. If they interfere with bees homing instincts then why didn’t they interfere last year or the year before?

Apparently the mystery may been solved. The Los Angeles Times reports that the preliminary results of a investigation into the problem “proved the solid evidence pointing to a potential cause.” What do you think it was?

I’ll give you a hint. Neither cell phones nor biotech crops have anything to do with the problem. In fact the problem is entirely natural. The researchers are finding “a single-celled parasite called Nosema Ceranae” along with two other fungi and some viruses in dead bees that have been studied.

The theory is that fungus in particular weakens bees and they are too weak to return to the hive. Once infected they fly out and never return leaving a ghost hive behind. Scientists say that this is similar to another fungus which also is deadly to bees and if the culprit can probably be treated with an antibiotic fumagillin used on the other fungus.

Now think about this for a second. First, there was a mystery and one that was potential harmful to human life since bees are used to pollinate crops that we depend upon for our survival. So something bad happened. We had no evidence as to what caused the problem. As I said, it was a mystery.

In the absence of evidence some of our friends in the Green movement immediately started claiming that humans were responsible. That it was cell phones or GE crops. By the way bees actually prefer some GE crops because they produce more nectar which is the reward bees get for pollinating. In essence these GE crops were a pay raise for bees.

It was like a game of Clue (Cluedo in some places). Except without clues being gathered the Greenies were saying “It was man who killed the bees, in the fields and the weapon was human technology.” This is really an automatic response from them. Anything in nature takes place that seems different from before must be an anthropogenic disaster in the making. Too bad for them the first clues are pointing to a fungus.

Don’t worry. Other changes will take place in nature and they will once again blame humans and denounce technology as the method. They can’t help it. They automatically blames humans for any natural anomaly the ways Nazis blamed Jews for anything that was problem. Once you have a favored scapegoat they get the rap for everything.

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