by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
When it comes to doubling down on bad science, bad environmental practices and bad policy, there truly is no one better at it than Monsanto. Despite the fact that every impartial study done on the subject points to the use of neonicotinoids as the main cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) of honeybee populations around the world. Monsanto has come up with their own solution – genetically mutated bees.
As reported by the Motley Fool, a site for Wall Street investors that has basically become a mouthpiece for pro-Monsanto propaganda, Monsanto’s recent subsiderary Beeologics is working on developing a bee with mutated RNA that will resist certain types of bacteria and parasites that are contributing factors to CCD. According to the article, “Beeologics is a biotech company itself — and one that is developing a portfolio of next-generation gene editing products utilizing RNA interference, or RNAi. The process occurs naturally within cells to defend against viruses (and other parasitic genetic material) and works by silencing genes, or keeping them from being expressed. Beeologics and Monsanto are developing the technology to silence two parasites that commonly affect agricultural pollinators: Israeli acute paralysis virus and parasitic mites belonging to the Varroa genus. Both can be targeted at the same time with the same product.”
The article claims that the technology is non-toxic and won’t effect the bees or the honey they produce. It does not mention whether the bees will be able to pass the gene on to natural bees or if the new bees will also be given a genetic mutation that causes them to die off before reproducing like many of Monsanto’s seed products have. Also, there is no word on wether Monsanto is also developing bees that will withstand neonicotinoids, but it seems likely that the technology exists to do just that. For now, it seems Monsanto is content with trying to disprove what European Union scientists believe to the culprit of CCD – pesticides with neonicotinoids used on Monsanto’s GM crops.
The danger here is apparent. If Monsanto can create a bee that is resistant to neonicotinoids and other factors that are killing off the pollinating bees around the world, then soon only monsanto bees will be left in the world and because of copyright laws on genetic mutations owned by Monsanto, the world’s farmers will be forced to pay for any crop grown that requires pollination from bees – which is virtually all of them. Monsanto’s obsession with litigation will ultimately bully all small farmers out of business – including organic ones that want nothing to do with producing Frankenfoods.
Unfortunately there is little that can be done without serious legislation that can override recent Supreme Court decisions that have shielded Monsanto from lawsuits deriving from their products infesting other farms. If seeds that get contaminated are protected by the courts, it is likely that bees that get contaminated with the modified RNA will also be protected.
The irony here is that bees and bee populations were just fine until the advent of GM crops and the overuse of pesticides that came with them. The fact that Monsanto’s solution for the killing of bees isn’t changing the chemicals that kill the bees but rather changing the bees to survive the chemicals is like a bit like trying to build a house of cards by taking out bottom cards to build the top floors – it will always and inevitable end in a mess.