I am often asked to sign petitions to ban certain pesticides because of Colony Collapse Disorder. Neonicotinoids have been found to cause problems for the bees. Although I believe neonicotinoids should be banned, I don't think that will completely solve the problem with the bees or CCD. For one thing, the chemical companies will come up with another pesticide which will continue to cause problems and/or will cause other significant problems, and it'll take years to ban that pesticide. Chemical pesticides in general are the problem.
Pesticides are everywhere. Many beekeepers feed their bees high fructose corn syrup. Nearly all corn in the US is heavily treated with pesticides. HFCS has a high concentration of pesticides in it. When it's fed to bees, bees are getting a big dose of pesticides. (And yes, certain pesticides seem to cause more harm than others, but they can't always tell which pesticide it is.) One of the things they believe is happening with the bees is that their immune systems are getting suppressed. This may be caused by exposure to pesticides. The bees are then more susceptible to disease. (And this business of hauling hives all over the country is a problem, too: It's not healthy for the bees.)
I keep thinking of my little neighbor children. I know they're getting HFCS in their diets. Most of the people in our country are exposed to HFCS on a daily basis. That means they are getting concentrations of pesticides from HFCS. Unfortunately, we are also getting exposed to pesticides in many other ways. Last I investigated, 60% of the air in the US was contaminated with some type of pesticide. (This site says 80%!) So any way we can reduce our exposure is a good idea. We need to especially reduce the exposing children and animals. Their uptake of pesticides, unfortunately, is greater than adults because of their metabolisms. And they get it from the lawns they play on, the fields they run through, the food they eat, and the air they breathe.
By the way, one might think then that substituting honey for HFCS in our foods is one answer. It's not. Honey is highly contaminated with pesticides (as well as heavy metals). Honey that claims to be organic probably is not. Bees travel wide and far, so unless you've got a lot of land where no chemicals are used and you know there is no drift, the honey is contaminated with pesticides. AND even if you do have land like that (or your beekeeper does), where did you or the beekeeper get the starter wax? 98% of starter wax is contaminated with pesticides. Which means the hive and therefore the honey is contaminated with pesticides.
As I said, the problem is pesticides in general. It's not about coming up with a new chemical pesticide. It's about chemical pesticides in general. I don't think there's any coincidence in the skyrocketing rates of cancer and immune disorders since the nineteen forties—which is when the "pesticide era" began.
The chemical companies are legion. They have powerful lobbyists. They've got more money than God, as my mother used to say. In my mind, chemical companies like Bayer are the evil empire. They are Morgoth. So what do we do? We don't purchase those products, for one. We don't use any kind of chemical pesticide or chemical fertilizer. We grow organic gardens and organic lawns. We nag our families and friends about NOT using these products. We volunteer to weed schools and parks to keep them using pesticides. We learn and use permaculture methods. Permaculture will save the world, I believe. IF WE JUST DO IT. Permaculture works with nature.
People often tell me they do not use pesticides. But then when I ask them certain questions, I'll discover they actually do use pesticides. They just didn't realize it. Properly used, the word pesticide is an umbrella term. Cide means kill. A pesticide kills a pest. So the Department of Agriculture uses the term pesticide to mean: an herbicide (killing plants), insecticide (killing insects), fungicide (killing fungus), rodenticides (killing rodents), etc. So if you're using OFF, RAID, Round-up, or any variation of these, you are using a pesticide. If you're treating your animals with a flea bath or putting on a flea collar, you are using a pesticide. If you use a bug bomb, you are using a pesticide. If you use any of these products, you're exposing yourself, your family, your animals, and your planet to harmful chemicals.
There are natural alternatives to all of these products. What we hear the most from people—after working on this issue for 30 years—is this: “But when I pull the weeds, they just come back.” Yes, but when you use Round-up the weeds also come back. “When we use vinegar (or hot water or whatever), the weeds just come back.” Yes, the weeds will ALWAYS come back until you change what you're planting or how you feel about weeds. If you employ permaculture methods, there won't be room for "weeds." I live in a rented house, and our lawn can be full of dandelions and Queen Anne's Lace. I don't care. I love both of them. I don't consider them weeds. (And if I didn't have so many neighborhood animals dumping on my lawn, I would eat the dandelions.)
Etc. I've gone on too long. My point is that we do need to apply political pressure (via signing petitions, writing letters, fomenting revolution) to these issues. You don’t have to go after Bayer. But you can go to your children’s school and find out what pesticides they use and work on getting them to stop. (And most of the time, whoever answers the phone has no idea. They will tell you that they don’t use pesticides in the school. You have to ask the right questions. “You don’t use insecticides in the kitchen? You don’t use Round-UP or something like that on the lawns?” And on and on.) Most parents don’t realize that their children are getting exposed to pesticides every day via their schools and the grounds of their schools.
We need to change how we live our own lives, I believe. We need to stop using poisons ourselves. We need to be conscious of our actions: We need to consider what we buy and what we use. There are things we can do. And I believe every single one of us needs to be doing—or in the case of chemical pesticides, we need to stop doing.