The astro-buzz, colony collapse disorder and other discontents

 We have come to use the term "astro-turfing," derived from plastic grass replacing real turf on playing fields and lawns, to describe various types of propaganda from political campaigns or corporate public relations campaigns (if they can be distinguished).
This posting compares one of doubtlessly many similar articles propagated by Monsanto and other pesticide manufacturers  to demonstrate their love and care for bees, and the horrifying statistics of Colony Collapse that plod down the years like the footsteps of doom itself.
When an entire political economic system is seen -- from destruction of the habitats of the Polar bear to the Honey bee -- to be destroying the habitat of humanity as well, what is the price of the conscience of those well enough educated to understand the danger and powerful enough to do something to lessen it? It is understood that business is amoral. That is its price for the alleged benefits of ruthless competition. But government and academia were supposed to be made of a finer grade of cloth.
The only force left to stand up to a million dollars is a million people.
March for bees! March for your life!

Or paddle! 



The Buzz on Beeologics
K. Humphrey
What do Monsanto and honey bees have in common? Beeologics.
Beeologics, acquired by Monsanto a year ago, researches and is developing biological tools to provide targeted control of pests and diseases, including those that are related to Honey Bee health. 
Monsanto will use the base technology from Beeologics as a part of its continuing discovery and development pipeline. Both companies expect their combined research could provide farmers with novel approaches to the challenges they face.
The beekeeping industry, while small, is a vital part of agriculture but often doesn’t receive the attention it merits. Not very many companies want to get involved in it as the research and investment can be expensive. But Monsanto believes Beeologics is going to be an important piece of the future for sustainable agriculture – something Monsanto is whole-heartedly devoted to.
“Monsanto knows that honey bees are a key component to successful sustainable agriculture globally,” said Jerry Hayes, Monsanto’s Beeologics Bee Health Lead. “They know that honey bees are responsible for one third of the food we eat. The acres of pollinator-dependent crops are the largest ever in the history of the world, and they’re growing along with population increases. Food is more than calories; it is nutrition. And with incomes increasing, there is more and more demand for fruits, nuts, vegetables and berries that enhance a diet nutritionally.”
Monsanto is committed to sustainable agriculture. That’s why they have chosen to use their time, talents and resources to contribute positively to honey bee health.
“Monsanto is the leader in the development of new technologies to safely, efficiently and cost-effectively control agriculture pests, predators and diseases,” said Hayes. “Honey bees are the key foundational pollinator of production agriculture, backyard gardens and the environment. Being able to work with the beekeeping industry on honey bee health issues is a tremendous challenge -- but one we can address together.”


Common Dreams
'Years Ago, This Was Unheard Of': Dire Trend Persists With Huge Bee Die-Off
US beekeepers lost 40 percent of pollinator population in last year
Nadia Prupis
A nationwide survey of U.S. beekeepers released on Wednesday found that the pollinators have been hit by another massive population drop, with 42 percent of bee colonies nationwide dying in the last year—the second-largest annual recorded loss to date and a number that is too high to be sustainable, according to researchers.
The survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories, which took stock of more than 6,000 beekeepers across the country collectively managing more than 14 percent of the nation's bee colonies. The findings highlight a growing—and worrying—trend among pollinators, whose dwindling numbers could have long-term consequences for the U.S. food supply.
In one significant discovery, many of the farmers reported losses in the summer months—a rare occurrence on its own, but made stranger by the fact that the summer rates exceeded winter deaths for the first time.
"We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of."
Environmental groups noted the scientific connection between the findings and the expansive use of pesticides pushed by agrochemical corporations like Monsanto.
"These dire honey bee numbers add to the consistent pattern of unsustainable bee losses in recent years that threatens our food system. The science is clear—we must take action now to protect these essential pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides," said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, in response to the study.
Some pesticides, like neonicotinoids, or "neonics," have long been shown to be major contributors to the bee population decline. A pair of studies published last month foundthat neonics could be even more harmful to pollinators than previously thought, as bumblebee populations were found to be dwindling around fields where neonics were used to treat crops.
Dr. Emily Marquez, staff scientist at the Pesticide Action Network, said on Wednesday, "Pesticide corporations can't spin their way out of the threats to our food system.... In the decade since unprecedented bee die-offs began, honey bee decline has not slowed. The science is in: pesticide exposure plays a significant role in these declines. Our food and farming system can’t sustain this level of pollinator loss year after year."
"The continued decline of bee populations are the writing on the wall for EPA and the White House," Marquez continued. "Policymakers must take swift action to phase out the use of harmful bee-harming pesticides like neonicotinoids, restrict unnecessary and harmful practices like seed coatings, and invest in cutting-edge and green farming systems that ensure the continued prosperity of the nation's farmers."
Monsanto and other agrochemical companies "make billions from bee-killing pesticide products while masquerading as champions of bee health," Finck-Haynes said on Wednesday. "Are their profits more important than our food supply? Are they more important than the livelihoods of America's farmers? The Obama administration must act now to restrict neonicotinoid pesticides that threaten America’s bees, farmers and food security."
Common Dreams
McKibben Blasts Obama Over Arctic Drilling as Activists Ready for Fight
Founder of says that now, "as with Keystone, it will be up to the environmental movement to block Shell's plan."
by Lauren McCauley
Faced with the imminent arrival of the Shell drilling fleet and newly announced White House backing for Arctic oil exploration, activists and environmentalists are readying for a fight.
In a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, co-founder Bill McKibben blasted the Obama administration's decision on Monday to grant the oil giant conditional approval to begin drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chuchki Seas this summer.
McKibben said that, despite his rhetoric, President Barack Obama has repeatedly exhibited "climate denial of the status quo sort," where people "accept the science, and indeed make long speeches about the immorality of passing on a ruined world to our children," but then ultimately "deny the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground."
"Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no," McKibben writes. He notes that now, "as with Keystone, it will be up to the environmental movement to block the plan."
On the ground, activists have taken up that call.
In Seattle, where the fossil fuel giant has leased a port terminal to serve as a "homeport" for its drilling fleet—over the objection of city residents and elected officials—one activist early Tuesday perched atop a 20-foot metal tripod, blocking the gates to the Shell fuel-transfer station in protest of its Arctic drilling plans.
Later in the day, grassroots activists with the Coalition for Port Accountability are holding a rally at the Seattle Port headquarters to demand that it rescind Shell's lease on the grounds that it violates port permit laws and was granted without public notification or consent. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council also support this call.
Meanwhile, according to reports, two of Shell's floating drilling rigs are due to dock in Washington ports any day now.
One ship, the Noble Discoverer, is expected to arrive at the Port of Everett on Tuesday and a second drill ship, the Polar Pioneer, is due to arrive at Terminal 5 in Seattle later this week, King 5 News reports, "despite the Mayor Ed Murray's assertion that the Port of Seattle can't host the rig until it gets a new land-use permit."
Other protesters, dubbed "kayaktivists," have organized a "sHell No Flotilla" and on May 16 are planning a mass water-based blockade, where they will paddle out and physically confront the massive rig entering the port.
Beginning Thursday, a coalition of environmental groups including Bayan USA, 350 Seattle, Backbone Campaign, Mosquito Fleet, and Rising Tide Seattle have organized three days of resistance. The actions this week are building towards a day of mass direct action on May 18 during which the groups pledge to use "nonviolent action to shut down Shell and all operations related to their Arctic expedition."
Under the banner "sHell No," the Seattle-based coalition says: "Shell’s drilling rigs are a prime example of the root causes and injustice of the climate crisis. They will generate untold wealth for the few, while wrecking the climate for everyone, trampling on indigenous rights, and causing millions of deaths in the global south. 
"Fifteen years after the WTO protests, we will remind the world that corporations like Shell that abuse human, environmental, and labor rights are not welcome in Seattle," the groups continue. "We are fighting for a world where we can all provide for our families without risking our health, planet, or future generations."
Updates on the growing campaign against Shell's Arctic drilling plans are being shared online under the hashtag #ShellNo.