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Thread: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Bayer purchased Monsanto with European taxpayers’ money

    https://mailchi.mp/gmwatch.org/bayer...y?e=eb54924245

    According to an article in the German press by the journalist and author Gaby Weber, Germany’s central bank – the Bundesbank – helped finance Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto with European taxpayers’ money.

    Three years ago, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann launched his bid to buy Monsanto. He promised it would make Bayer a global player and provide huge dividends for shareholders. According to Weber, greed prevented a prudent risk analysis. As a result, says Weber, Bayer’s stock is now in the doldrums, there are astronomical claims for damages coming from the US, and Bayer is threatened with takeover or bankruptcy.

    Unfortunately, the buck stops not with Bayer’s shareholders or its managers, says Weber, but with the taxpayer. In the face of impending bankruptcy, the German government will probably step in - as it did in the banking crisis.

    The Bundesbank will also incur considerable losses in such a situation because it was the Bundesbank that financed a large part of the purchase of Monsanto, via a programme of the European Central Bank (ECB), which gets its money from European taxpayers.

    A spokesman for the ECB, William Lelieveldt, has confirmed to Weber that the Bayer bonds were purchased under the ECB’s asset purchasing programme. But Weber says Lelieveldt wouldn’t disclose the exact amount or the interest rate.

    Weber says, Lelieveldt claimed that "risk management considerations" were employed. But Lelieveldt did not spell out what exactly these were. The bonds are in the portfolio of the Bundesbank. Weber’s applications for the risk assessment are pending in Brussels and in Frankfurt. He says if he’s denied the information, he will seek legal remedies.

    Weber also has a lawsuit against Bayer AG to force the company to publish its due diligence report. His case will be heard on 12 September before the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.

    Bayer, which promises "higher standards of transparency", paid $62 billion for Monsanto. A quarter of that is said to have come from equity, from sales of company shares to BASF, which the US Securities and Exchange Commission had demanded, and from the sale of materials manufacturer Covestro. In addition, Bayer had issued new shares through a capital increase and engaged Bank of America, Crédit Suisse and Haus Rothschild for the remainder.

    The Bundesbank’s head, Weidmann, has applied for the position of ECB president. But, according to Weber, having given European taxpayers' money to Monsanto’s shareholders, his chances of getting the top job are falling along with Bayer’s stock.

    https://mailchi.mp/gmwatch.org/bayer...y?e=eb54924245

    Original article In german https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Kau...t-4453665.html

    https://www.gmwatch.org/en/
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Big data and innovations for healthy bees

    By CORDIS

    Big data, an interactive platform and six different technological innovations are the core of the recently started Horizon 2020 project B-GOOD (b-good-project.eu/) in its 4-year mission to pave the way toward healthy and sustainable beekeeping across the European Union.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-06-big-healthy-bees.html

    In close cooperation with the EU Bee Partnership, the project aims to develop a EU-wide bee health and management data platform, which will enable sharing of knowledge between scientists, beekeepers and other actors in the area.

    To ensure interoperability and the establishment of the platform as a centralised EU bee data hub and support beekeepers in maintaining honey bees healthy, the European Food Safety Authority—EFSA's Health Status Index (HSI) will be further extended and operationalized.

    This will be done for example by selection of key health indicators, creation of user-friendly protocols, development of novel tools to monitor health parameters giving attention for the honeybee gene pool.

    B-GOOD's platform will utilise and further expand the open source BEEP system (beep.nl/home-english) comprised of a monitoring device and the already functional user-friendly application for digital beekeeping logbooks.

    The ultimate goal is to supply beekeepers with a decision-making tool that will provide comprehensive analysis and advice based on the flow of data from the beehives and their environment, including landscape composition and resource availability, agricultural practices and climate.

    To achieve this the project will rely on and expand EFSA's honey bee simulation model ApisRAM, and apply machine learning to provide linkage between bee health and environmental and management context.

    While also incorporating legacy data, what makes the platform truly unique is that it will be collecting real-time data related to colony health, based on 6 different monitoring tools developed within B-GOOD. These include the use of:

    accelerometers to produce long term statistics based on—a range of honeybee vibrations;

    gas and spatially resolved temperature measurements, quantitative physiological activity and brood;

    automated bee counters providing outside-hive mortality rates, pollen flow, drone/worker discrimination;

    sensors to detect pesticide residues;

    devices to detect honey bee viruses of high health relevance;

    analytical tool for genetic imprint.

    "Our dynamic bee health and management data platform will allow us to identify correlative relationships among factors impacting the HSI, assess the risk of emerging pests and predators, and enable beekeepers' to develop adaptive management strategies that account for local and EU-wide issues," comments project coordinator Prof. Dirk de Graaf, Ghent University, Belgium.

    Another key factor to play a role in B-GOOD's future guidance to sustainable beekeeping will be the better understanding of its socio-economics, particularly within local value chains and its relationship with bee health and the human-ecosystem equilibrium of the beekeeping sector.

    Explore further https://phys.org/news/2018-08-mitiga...ee-health.html

    B-GOOD http://b-good-project.eu/
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Hold on..whats going on?

    WHY? - The Barely Blur (Buzzsession)



    rock on.
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Honeybees infect wild bumblebees—through shared flowers

    by University of Vermont

    https://phys.org/news/2019-06-honeyb...esthrough.html

    Many species of wild bumblebees are in decline—and new research shows that diseases spread by domestic honeybees may be a major culprit.

    Several of the viruses associated with bumblebees' trouble are moving from managed bees in apiaries to nearby populations of wild bumblebees—"and we show this spillover is likely occurring through flowers that both kinds of bees share," says Samantha Alger, a scientist at the University of Vermont who led the new research.

    "Many wild pollinators are in trouble and this finding could help us protect bumblebees," she says. "This has implications for how we manage domestic bees and where we locate them."

    The first-of-its-kind study was published June 26 in the journal PLOS ONE.

    Virus hunters

    Around the globe, the importance of wild pollinators has been gaining attention as diseases and declines in managed honeybees threaten key crops. Less well understood is that many of the threats to honeybees (Apis mellifera)—including land degradation, certain pesticides, and diseases—also threaten native bees, such as the rusty patched bumblebee, recently listed under the Endangered Species Act; it has declined by nearly 90% but was once an excellent pollinator of cranberries, plums, apples and other agricultural plants.

    The research team—three scientists from the University of Vermont and one from the University of Florida—explored 19 sites across Vermont.

    They discovered that two well-know RNA viruses found in honeybees—deformed wing virus and black queen cell virus—were higher in bumblebees collected less than 300 meters from commercial beehives. The scientists also discovered that active infections of the deformed wing virus were higher near these commercial apiaries but no deformed wing virus was found in the bumblebees they collected where foraging honeybees and apiaries were absent.

    Most impressive, the team detected viruses on 19% of the flowers they sampled from sites near apiaries. "I thought this was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. What are the chances that you're going to pick a flower and find a bee virus on it?" says Alger. "Finding this many was surprising." In contrast, the scientists didn't detect any bee viruses on flowers sampled more than one kilometer from commercial beehives.

    The UVM scientists—including Alger and co-author Alex Burnham, a doctoral student—and other bee experts have for some years suspected that RNA viruses might move from honeybees to bumblebees through shared flowers. But—with the exception of one small study in a single apiary—the degree to which these viruses can be "horizontally transmitted," the scientists write, with flowers as the bridge, has not been examined until now.

    Taken together, these results strongly suggest that "viruses in managed honeybees are spilling over to wild bumblebee populations and that flowers are an important route," says Alison Brody, a professor in UVM's Department of Biology, and senior author on the new PLOS study. "Careful monitoring and treating of diseased honeybee colonies could protect wild bees from these viruses as well as other pathogens or parasites."

    Just like chicken?

    Alger—an expert beekeeper and researcher in UVM's Department of Plant & Soil Science and Gund Institute for Environment—is deeply concerned about the long-distance transport of large numbers of honeybees for commercial pollination.

    "Big operators put hives on flatbed trucks and move them to California to pollinate almonds and then onto Texas for another crop," she says—carrying their diseases wherever they go. And between bouts of work on monoculture farm fields, commercial bees are often taken to more pristine natural habitats "to rest and recover, where there is diverse, better forage," says Alger.

    "This research suggests that we might want to keep apiaries outside of areas where there are vulnerable pollinator species, like the rusty patched bumblebees," Alger says, "especially because we have so much more to learn about what these viruses are actually doing to bumblebees."

    Honeybees are an important part of modern agriculture, but "they're non-native. They're livestock animals," Alger says. "A huge misconception in the public is that honeybees serve as the iconic image for pollinator conservation. That's ridiculous. It's like making chickens the iconic image of bird conservation."

    More information: Alger SA, Burnham PA, Boncristiani HF, Brody AK (2019) RNA virus spillover from managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) to wild bumblebees (Bombus spp.). PLOS ONE (2019). DOI:

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0217822

    https://phys.org/news/2019-06-honeyb...bee-virus.html
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Joy as an Act of Resistance.

    Idles G.r.e.a.t..




    Rock on..
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Thomas Seeleys Magnus Opus is out..very readable..

    The Lives Of Bees: What Were Honeybees Like Before Human Cultivation?

    GrrlScientist Contributor

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/grrlsci.../#5f1230051788

    This gorgeous and noteworthy book provides a very different view of honey bees and how they live in the wild and offers important lessons for saving the world’s managed bee colonies

    We have never known what we were doing
    because we have never known what we were undoing.
    We cannot know what we are doing until we know
    what nature would be doing if we were doing nothing.”

    -- Wendell Berry, “Preserving wildness: An essay” (1987).

    A variety of bee species have been managed by humans over thousands of years to provide a ready supply of honey and, much later, pollination services for a diversity of food crops. But the most common and widespread of these are honey bees, Apis mellifera.

    The American Beekeeping Federation estimates that honey bee pollination services are worth as much as $20 billion to US food crop production alone, and the National Honey Board valued the 2013 honey crop at over $300 million. Obviously, honey bees are economically important, but unlike domesticated animals, honey bees are not solely dependent upon people to survive. Even today, honey bees are quite capable of living in the wild, free from human interference.

    What were the lives of wild honey bees like before humans began intensively managing them and moving them all over the world? Surprisingly, we know little about this. After a career of fieldwork and research into wild honey bees, Thomas Seeley, a distinguished professor of biology at Cornell University, provides insights in his quintessential book, The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild (Princeton University Press, 2019: Amazon US / Amazon UK).

    Not only does he celebrate the fascinating lives of honey bees, but he argues that by keeping honey bees in a way that respects their needs, we can reduce the frequency of disease outbreaks that they are prone to, and reduce the chances that these diseases may spread amongst native wild bee species and seriously harm them, too.

    This interesting and readable book is both a personal account and a scholarly magnum opus as Professor Seeley recounts his studies of honey bees.

    Professor Seeley relies extensively on his lifelong investigations into wild bees -- a passion that began when he was 11 years old -- and uses rigorous scientific research to develop eleven chapters covering a number of important cultural, historical and natural history topics, including wild honey bee nests, colony reproduction, colony defense, food collection, temperature control and the annual cycle of wild honey bees.

    I was particularly interested to learn that Professor Seeley thinks honey bees are not truly domesticated, especially in the way that dogs, cattle and maize are domesticated. “As a rule,” Professor Seeley writes, “the process of domestication produces organisms with traits that enable them to thrive in environments managed by humans but cause them to struggle in the wild” (Seeley 79).

    Instead, Professor Seeley argues that honey bees are semi-domesticated, and reminds his readers that throughout recorded history, humans have domesticated animals by manipulating their environments and by changing their genes. On one hand, we have managed to manipulate honey bees’ environment through the nearly universal adoption of artificial beehives designed to enhance honey production, but we’ve not changed honey bee genes very much.

    Although Professor Seeley does note decisive successes in selectively breeding honey bees for hygienic behaviors that improve resistance to devastating diseases such as American foulbrood, chalkbrood, and tracheal and Varroa mites, and also to enhance alfalfa pollination behaviors, he notes that “there is no evidence that artificial selection has altered in any general way the behavior of honey bees” (Seeley 91).

    He further points out that there are no distinct breeds of honey bees, indicating “that, in many (perhaps most), places, the genetics of honey bees is shaped far more by natural selection for traits that boost the genetic success of colonies on their own than by artificial selection for traits that can boost the profits from colonies owned by beekeepers. This explains why it is that honey bees do not need our manufactured hives, and instead are still perfectly at home in a hollow tree” (Seeley 93).

    But the crux of Professor Seeley’s book is the final chapter, Darwinian Beekeeping. In this chapter, Professor Seeley summarises and reviews important differences in living conditions between wild and managed colonies that he detailed in this book. He argues that typical beekeeping practices are often stressful to the bees, and thus, can cause disease.

    In this chapter, Professor Seeley lists 14 ways that responsible beekeepers can change their practices to improve the overall health -- and the lives -- of their bees, so these insects can continue to pollinate our food crops and manufacture the honey that so many of us love.

    Not only is this scholarly book accessible and well-written, but Princeton did a superb job producing it. It’s printed on heavy paper that will provide bibliophiles with intense pleasure to touch, to hold, and to read. The book features full-color photographs and graphics embedded throughout.

    The diagrams, charts and tables are placed within the text where they most effectively complement the discussion of various topics.

    At the end of the book, there is a section filled with considerable notes for each chapter, followed by an exhaustive list of references that will be very useful to scientists and to beekeepers in particular.

    Although the casual reader might suffer information overload (or alternatively, they may discover a new passion), The Lives of Bees will be highly-prized and often referenced by scientists, beekeepers and students of bees, and will fascinate anyone who wishes to learn more about the lives of these amazing insects.

    Thomas Seeley has published 4 other books, 1 newspaper article, and over 175 scholarly publications. He received the Gold Medal for the Best Science Book, (The Wisdom of the Hive, 1998), was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt’s Senior Scientist Prize in 2001 and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that same year.

    In 2017 he was awarded fellowship to American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1997, a new species of bee, Neocorynurella seeleyi, was named after him.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/grrlsci.../#5f1230051788
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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Unbelievable catch from 20 feet in the air!

    It's not every day that I come across an external hive that needs to be removed, and I am always excited at the opportunity to remove one, but as you can tell by the thumbnail, this one was located in a somewhat precarious location and up in the air about 20 feet. Not only that, there were large shrubs around the home that made using an extension ladder impossible. Oh, and have I ever mentioned that I don't like working up high? Well, I don't. The solution, rent a lift, work smart, and avoid an emergency room visit, or worst yet, a visit to the mortuary.

    https://www.studiobeeproductions.com/

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    “Modified” – A film about GMOs and corruption of the food supply for profit

    EXCERPT: "The industry will often say these are the most regulated crops in history… I’m not an expert on the law in many other countries. But I am an expert on the laws in the United States and I can tell you… they are virtually unregulated.”

    Off-Guardian, 30 Jun 2019
    https://off-guardian.org/2019/06/30/...ly-for-profit/

    * Colin Todhunter reviews the award winning documentary from Canadian film-maker Aube Giroux

    Parts of the documentary Modified are spent at the kitchen table. But it’s not really a tale about wonderful recipes or the preparation of food.

    Ultimately, it’s a story of capitalism, money and power and how our most basic rights are being eroded by unscrupulous commercial interests.

    The film centres on its maker, Aube Giroux, who resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. Her interest in food and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was inspired by her mother, Jali, who also appears throughout.

    Aube says that when her parents bought their first house her mother immediately got rid of the lawn and planted a huge garden where she grew all kinds of heirloom vegetables, berries, flowers, legumes and garlic.

    “She wanted me and my sister to grow up knowing the story behind the food that we ate, so our backyard was basically our grocery store,” says Aube.

    During the film, we are treated not only to various outdoor scenes of the Giroux’s food garden (their ‘grocery store’) but also to Aube and her mother’s passion for preparing homemade culinary delights.

    The ‘backyard’ is the grocery store and much of Giroux family life revolves around the kitchen and the joy of healthy, nutritious food.

    When GMOs first began appearing in food, Aube says that what bothered her mother was that some of the world’s largest chemical companies were patenting these new genetically engineered seeds and controlling the seed market.

    In the film, Aube explains, “Farmers who grow GMOs have to sign technology license agreements promising never to save or replant the patented seeds. My mom didn’t think it was a good idea to allow corporations to engineer and then patent the seeds that we rely on for food. She believed that seeds belong in the hands of people.”

    As the GMO issue became prominent, Aube became more interested in the subject. It took her 10 years to complete the film, which is about her personal journey of discovery into the world of GMOs.

    The film depicts a world that is familiar to many of us; a place where agritech industry science and money talk, politicians and officials are all too eager to listen and the public interest becomes a secondary concern.

    In 2001, Canada’s top scientific body, The Royal Society, released a scathing report that found major problems with the way GMOs were being regulated.

    The report made 53 recommendations to the government for fixing the regulatory system and bringing it in line with peer-reviewed science and the precautionary principle, which says new technologies should not be approved when there is uncertainty about their long-term safety.

    To date, only three of these recommendations have been implemented.

    Throughout the film, we see Aube making numerous phone calls, unsuccessfully trying to arrange an interview to discuss these issues with Health Canada, the department of the government of Canada that is responsible for national public health.

    Meanwhile, various people are interviewed as the story unfolds. We are told about the subverting of regulatory agencies in the US when GMOs first appeared on the scene in the early 1990s: the Food and Drug Administration ignored the warnings of its own scientists, while Monsanto flexed its political muscle to compromise the agency by manoeuvring its own people into positions of influence.

    One respondent says:

    "We’ve had a number of people from Monsanto, many from Dupont, who have actually been in top positions at the USDA and the FDA over the last 20 years, making darn sure that when those agencies did come out with any pseudo-regulation, that it was what these industries wanted.

    "The industry will often say these are the most regulated crops in history… I’m not an expert on the law in many other countries. But I am an expert on the laws in the United States and I can tell you… they are virtually unregulated.”

    Aube takes time to find out about genetic engineering and talks to molecular biologists. She is shown how the process of genetic modification in the lab works.

    One scientist says:

    "In genetics, we have a phrase called pleiotropic effects. It means that there are other effects in the plant that are unintended but are a consequence of what you’ve done. I wouldn’t be surprised if something came up somewhere along the line that we hadn’t anticipated that’s going to be a problem.”

    And that’s very revealing: if you are altering the genetic core of the national (and global) food supply in a way that would not have occurred without human intervention, you had better be pretty sure about the consequences. Many illnesses can take decades to show up in a population.

    This is one reason why Aube Giroux focuses on the need for the mandatory labelling of GM food in Canada. Some 64 countries have already implemented such a policy and most Canadians want GM food to be labelled too.

    However, across North America labelling has been fiercely resisted by the industry. As the film highlights, it’s an industry that has key politicians in its back pocket and has spent millions resisting effective labelling.

    In the film, we hear from someone from the agri/biotech industry say that labelling would send out the wrong message; it would amount to fearmongering; it would confuse the public; it would raise food prices; and you can eat organic if you don’t want GMOs. To those involved in the GMO debate and the food movement, these industry talking points are all too familiar.

    Signalling the presence of GMOs in food through labelling is about the public’s right to know what they are eating. But the film makes clear there are other reasons for labelling too. To ensure that these products are environmentally safe and safe for human health, you need to monitor them in the marketplace. If you have new allergic responses emerging is it a consequence of GMOs?

    There’s no way of telling if there is no labelling.

    Moreover, the industry knows many would not purchase GM food if people were given any choice on the matter. That’s why it has spent so much money and invested so much effort to prevent it.

    During the film, we also hear from an Iowa farmer, who says GM is all about patented seeds and money. He says there’s incredible wealth and power to be had from gaining ownership of the plants that feed humanity. And it has become a sorry tale for those at the sharp end: farmers are now on a financially lucrative (for industry) chemical-biotech treadmill as problems with the technology and its associated chemicals mount: industry rolls out even stronger chemicals and newer GM traits to overcome the failures of previous rollouts.

    But to divert attention from the fact that GM has ‘failed to yield’ and deliver on industry promises, the film notes that the industry churns out rhetoric, appealing to emotion rather than fact, about saving the world and feeding the hungry to help legitimize the need for GM seeds and associated (health- and environment-damaging) chemical inputs.

    In an interview posted on the film’s website, Aube says that genetic engineering is an important technology but “should only take place if the benefits truly outweigh the risks, if rigorous adequate regulatory systems are in place and if full transparency, full disclosure and the precautionary principle are the pillars on which our food policies are based.”

    Health Canada has always claimed to have had a science-based GMO regulatory system. But the Royal Society’s report showed that GMO approvals are based on industry studies that have little scientific merit since they aren’t peer-reviewed.

    For all her attempts, Aube failed to get an interview with Health Canada. Near the end of the film, we see her on the phone to the agency once again. She says:

    "Well I guess I find it extremely concerning and puzzling that Health Canada is not willing to speak with me… you guys are our public taxpayer-funded agency in this country that regulates GMOs, and so you’re accountable to Canadians, and you have a responsibility to answer questions.”

    Given this lack of response and the agency’s overall track record on GMOs, it is pertinent to ask just whose interests does Health Canada ultimately serve.

    When Aube Giroux started this project, it was meant to be a film about food. But she notes that it gradually became a film about democracy: who gets to decide our food policies; is it the people we elect to represent us, or is it corporations and their heavily financed lobbyists?

    Aube is a skilful filmmaker and storyteller. She draws the viewer into her life and introduces us to some inspiring characters, especially her mother, Jali, who passed away during the making of the film. Jali has a key part in the documentary, which had started out as a joint venture between Aube and her mother.

    By interweaving personal lives with broader political issues, Modified becomes a compelling documentary. On one level, it’s deeply personal. On another, it is deeply disturbing given what corporations are doing to food without our consent – and often – without our knowledge.

    For those who watch the film, especially those coming to the issue for the first time, it should at the very least raise concerns about what is happening to food, why it is happening and what can be done about it. The film might be set in Canada, but the genetic engineering of our food supply by conglomerates with global reach transcends borders and affects us all.

    Whether we reside in North America, Europe, India or elsewhere, the push is on to co-opt governments and subvert regulatory bodies by an industry which regards GM as a multi-billion cash cow – regardless of the consequences.

    Modified won the 2019 James Beard Foundation award for best documentary and is currently available on DVD at modifiedthefilm.com. It is due to be released on digital streaming platforms this summer.

    https://mailchi.mp/gmwatch.org/modif...t?e=eb54924245

    Website: http://www.gmwatch.org

    MODIFIED Trailer

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Honeybees – nature conservation with genetic engineering?

    In February 2019, the first paper on using CRISPR technology to produce pesticide-resistant honeybees was published in South Korea. Ostensibly, this is intended to "protect" the bees from insecticides. This is further not just a one-off case: more and more stakeholders are interested in promoting genetically engineered organisms to "protect" endangered species. Ultimately, it means that wild populations might be replaced by genetically "optimised" organisms.

    https://www.testbiotech.org/node/2383

    One goal of the Korean research, written as an MSc thesis, was to make honeybees resistant to the insecticide spinosad. It cannot be concluded from the thesis whether this was successfully accomplished or not. Another paper published by US scientists in 2019, shows how the CRISPR/Cas nuclease can be used to investigate and manipulate the development of honey bee queens. This paper also discusses the possibilities of producing pesticide-resistant honey bee colonies.

    “The problems in the conservation of species cannot be solved by replacing them with genetically engineered organisms. If we want to protect honeybees, we have to encourage the protection of wild populations and their ecosystems,” said Christoph Then for Testbiotech. “Given the complex biology of bee colonies and their manifold interactions with the environment, such interventions on the level of the genome cannot be justified. We have to set effective limits to genetic engineering applications.”

    Most recently, the number of projects aiming to intervene in ecosystems via genetic engineering has increased strongly. For example, the release of chestnut trees with blight resistance is being discussed in the US.

    Furthermore, there are plans to manipulate insects and rodents via gene drives in a way that whole populations could become extinct. In the near future, mosquitoes could be infected with a transgenic fungus that produces an insecticidal toxin to prevent malaria. The use of insects to broadly spread genetically engineered viruses in the environment is also under discussion. Some of these applications are also discussed in a recent report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), also commented by Testbiotech.

    There is a general problem with these applications: if genetically engineered organisms persist and propagate in the environment, the biological characteristics of their offspring can be quite different from those originally intended. In addition, their reaction to environmental impacts cannot be predicted. Christoph Then said: “In regard to the precautionary principle, it is important that releases cannot be allowed if there are no effective methods available to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the genetically engineered organisms. We have to make such standards mandatory by including them in regulation.”

    Testbiotech comment on the IUCN report:

    https://www.testbiotech.org/content/...thetic-biology

    Source: Testbiotech https://www.testbiotech.org/en/press...ic-engineering

    Website: http://www.gmwatch.org
    TRUTH and BALANCE

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    William, Light-Worker Bees check this out not a Hymenopteran BUT beautiful never the less!

    I for one will join in with anyone, I don't care what color you are as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this Earth - Malcolm X / Tsar Of The Star

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Glyphosate: The European Controversy – A review of civil society struggles and regulatory failures

    I. Introduction

    Getting a pesticide banned often takes a long time, even if the evidence of its negative effects on health and the environment is strong and well-documented.

    Typically, such negative effects become obvious when the pesticide is widely used in large parts of the world. By that point, however, it is particularly difficult to achieve a ban on such a pesticide due to the powerful economic interests at stake.

    A prime example from the past of the protracted effort required to ban a pesticide is the case of the insecticide DDT, which was finally banned for agricultural use in various countries in the 1970s. A prime example from the present, meanwhile, is the herbicide glyphosate.

    Glyphosate was first marketed in the mid-1970s and is currently the most widely used pesticide in the world with an annual global use of more than 800,000 tons.

    1 A large share of glyphosate is marketed as a ‘package’ together with genetically modified seeds of glyphosate-resistant crops. Yet, even in countries without genetically modified crops, e.g., Germany, glyphosate is used extensively.

    In Germany, the annual use is above 5,000 tons,2 representing approximately 12 per cent of the total amount of pesticides used in the country per year, while the remaining 88 per cent is divided between 250 different other compounds.

    Although the focus of this paper is on glyphosate in the European Union (EU), it should be kept in mind that in South America, glyphosate use per hectare is at least four times higher than in Europe.3 At the same time, pesticide regulation is much weaker in South America compared with the EU.

    The current European pesticide regulation – Regulation (EC) 1107/20094 – is commonly considered to be one of the most stringent regulations in the world. It resulted from a decade-long legislative evolution, accompanied by civil society struggles for better protection of the environment and human health. The EU pesticide regulation has three special features:

    it recommends a precautionary approach be used in cases of scientific uncertainty;

    it requires that knowledge from existing scientific literature be considered in addition to studies submitted by industry actors; and

    it applies the so-called ‘hazard-based’ approach to certain health concerns, meaning that if a pesticide is knowingly or probably carcinogenic, mutagenic or harmful to the unborn child, it cannot be approved for marketing on principle, rendering any ‘risk assessment’ superfluous.5

    The European pesticide regulation requires that each pesticide undergo review and reapproval every 10–15 years, taking into consideration new scientific knowledge. For glyphosate, this process lasted from May 2012 to November 2017.

    It started when the Glyphosate Task Force, a consortium of 26 chemical companies led by Monsanto, submitted their dossier for the reapproval of glyphosate to the reporting member state (RMS). The RMS (Germany) was responsible for preparing the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR), which forms the basis of a two-step decision-making process.

    First, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its (anonymous) experts, recruited from an approved pool of representatives from all EU member states, draw a conclusion on whether the pesticide in question can be recommended for reapproval.

    This is done after a public consultation on the RAR (in the case of glyphosate, performed in April/May 2014) and a peer review of the RAR performed by the experts. Thereafter, the Standing Committee for Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF), a committee of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission (DG SANTE), decides on the reapproval of the pesticide.

    This paper analyses the regulatory background for a ban on the pesticide glyphosate as well as the EU authorities’ breach of their own rules and civil society’s struggle against this breach.

    It reviews the legal basis for prohibiting pesticides classified as ‘probable human carcinogens’ in the EU and shows how relevant EU authorities violated their own rules to keep glyphosate on the market. The article concludes with an assessment of civil society’s successes and disappointments in claiming the human right to health as related to glyphosate.

    II. The Glyphosate Struggle

    In essence, the struggle to ban glyphosate is about realizing the human right to ‘the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’ by protecting people from exposure to dangerous substances through their food or environment.

    6 A multitude of actors have a stake in this struggle, including public servants, legislators, the chemical industry, the agriculture industry (both conventional and organic), civil society, journalists, lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

    In contrast to other situations in which only civil society is at loggerheads with profit-seeking corporations, the quarrel over glyphosate has a unique feature: a controversy between authorities.

    Although the EU regulatory authorities sided with industry in the opinion that glyphosate is harmless, a highly esteemed agency of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classified glyphosate as a ‘probable human carcinogen’.

    This became a main point of reference for glyphosate critics and had a significant impact on the pesticide’s EU reapproval process.

    While scientific reports on health and environmental problems caused by glyphosate frequently mention birth defects,

    7 detrimental effects on biodiversity,8 and chronic kidney failure,9 the most important and best-documented effect is that of being a probable human carcinogen.

    10 In March 2015, IARC announced its classification of glyphosate as a category 2a hazard on its scale of carcinogenicity, identical to category 1B in the EU system, further fuelling the existing public controversy over its safety and creating a serious obstacle for the pesticide’s ongoing European reapproval process.

    11 According to EU regulation 1107/2009, category 1B (presumed human hazard, based on evidence from animal studies) represents a cut-off criterion that prohibits the marketing of such a pesticide in principle.

    Following the announcement, industry actors boldly tried to discredit the IARC findings by calling their assessment ‘junk science’, while EU authorities confused the public by blurring the debate about ‘risk’ and ‘hazard’ (note: carcinogenicity category 1B makes a risk assessment superfluous).

    A growing number of scientific publications criticized the EU authorities’ regulatory failure concerning glyphosate12 and parliamentary hearings were convened on the topic in Berlin and Brussels. Meanwhile, a multi-layered civil society campaign challenged the EU authorities’ position.

    In summer 2015, under pressure from IARC’s findings, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) re-evaluated its own carcinogenicity assessment and had to admit that it had initially ‘relied on the statistical evaluation provided with the [industry-produced] study reports’ instead of making its own judgement.

    13 In its original assessment, BfR had only acknowledged the increased incidence of one tumour type in a single study, which it considered an ‘outlier’ because no further increases seemed to exist in other studies.

    After a re-evaluation of its own database, however, using IARC’s preferred statistical method, BfR had to acknowledge that there were altogether 11 significantly increased tumour incidences in seven out of 12 studies instead of only one in a single study. Surprisingly, this result did not change the EU authorities’ general conclusion that glyphosate lacks carcinogenic potential.

    They dismissed all of BfR’s significant findings based on a ‘weight of evidence’ approach that, if applied properly according to the rules laid down in guidance documents, is a legitimate scientific procedure.

    However, the authorities’ use of these rules as a benchmark for EFSA’s assessment was heavily flawed,14 a fact that was criticized as early as September 2015.

    15 Consequently, an Austrian non-governmental organization (NGO), Global2000, together with other NGOs, filed a criminal complaint alleging scientific fraud against Monsanto, BfR and EFSA.16 Regrettably, the case was not taken up by the legal authorities in the end, but it did serve as a tool for raising public awareness around this issue.

    Concerning the reapproval of glyphosate, on 12 November 2015, EFSA published its conclusion stating that ‘glyphosate did not present genotoxic potential and no evidence of carcinogenicity was observed in rats or mice’.17 For industry actors, this was the ticket they had been waiting for, as it set them up to get the envisioned 15-year reapproval of glyphosate in the EU. From there, however, the ride did not go as smoothly as industry actors, BfR and EFSA had hoped.

    The European Commission’s proposal for a 15-year reapproval of glyphosate still needed the endorsement of SCoPAFF. However, between 8 March and 24 June 2016, SCoPAFF failed on three different occasions to reach a qualified majority on the issue.

    18 Thereafter, DG SANTE of the European Commission could have made the decision on its own, but instead opted to extend the existing approval until the end of 2017, as a safety assessment of glyphosate by another European authority, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), was still pending.

    ECHA’s task was to perform a hazard assessment according to Regulation (EC) 1272/2008.19 On 15 June 2017, based on a similarly flawed ‘weight of evidence’ approach, ECHA announced the same conclusion as EFSA: that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic or mutagenic hazard.20 This opinion was met with the same critique by NGOs as that voiced earlier in relation to EFSA’s conclusion and triggered a fierce exchange of open letters between ECHA and the NGOs.

    21 Towards the end of glyphosate’s 18-month extension period, SCoPAFF was again charged with making the decision about the pesticide’s future in the EU. In contrast to 2016, when SCoPAFF considered a proposal for the 15-year reapproval of glyphosate, on 27 November 2017, the decision finally taken by the body’s appeal committee was to reauthorize glyphosate for a five-year period only.

    22 Although the NGOs did not achieve their goal of banning glyphosate entirely in the EU, the significant reduction of its reapproval period to only five years still marks an important achievement. As a result, countries like France announced they would ‘phase-out’ glyphosate over the next few years.

    III. Assessment and Conclusion

    Banning glyphosate in the EU would contribute to protecting the human right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and would send an important signal to other countries where the herbicide’s use is even more prevalent.

    Despite not achieving such a ban on glyphosate, however, the reduction of its potential 15-year EU reapproval to a much shorter re-authorization period of only five years still amounts to an important success. This outcome did not come about by itself, but was the result of a multi-faceted, Europe-wide campaign that can provide valuable lessons for similar efforts in the future.

    While some campaign activities directly targeted corporations, such as the October 2016 Monsanto Tribunal held in Den Haag23 and the criminal complaint mentioned earlier in this piece, most activities targeted the relevant EU authorities’ insufficient transparency and lack of compliance with their own rules and guidance documents.

    IARC’s 2015 report classifying glyphosate as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ and numerous NGO reports analysing various aspects of the EU authorities’ failures and collusion with corporations were important points of reference for the campaign.

    24 Several parliamentary hearings were conducted at the national and the European level, and an inquiry committee of the European Parliament did its work in 2018 looking into possible flaws to avoid them during the next reapproval process for glyphosate.

    Over the course of the campaign, such efforts were amplified by significant media coverage and a successful European Citizens Initiative that handed in more than one million validated signatures to the European Commission on 23 October 2017.

    Overall, it was the manifold and coordinated nature of civil society action that led to the campaign’s substantial, even if incomplete, success in the case of this ‘system-relevant’ pesticide.

    While it is probably fair to say that civil society’s efforts would have been less successful without IARC’s competing and authoritative hazard assessment of glyphosate, the Agency’s report would likely have been filed without much fanfare or impact had it not been for the ‘sounding board’ of civil society.

    Moreover, when assessing the role of civil society, it is important to recognize that it was not just the high number of NGOs participating in this campaign that made it so effective, but also the diversity of NGOs involved and acting in a coordinated and complementary fashion.

    This included:

    NGO networks with large memberships in different countries (e.g., Friends of the Earth) being able to fund expert opinions (e.g., on the BfR’s plagiarism) and pay for lawyers (e.g., when filing the criminal complaint against BfR, EFSA and Monsanto);

    NGOs with offices in Brussels and other European capitals being well-positioned to convince parliamentarians and the media of the appropriateness of their stance;

    NGOs with sufficient expertise to participate in and sometimes even drive the scientific debate; and

    NGOs specialized in online campaigns, capable of mobilizing many citizens.

    Notably, attempts to hold EU authorities directly accountable for dismissing their own standards in favour of industry preferences were unsuccessful.

    It was not legal decisions against the authorities, but public pressure that enabled the campaign’s partial victory over commercial interests, for the benefit of human rights. Although accountability could not be legally enforced, the ‘glyphosate battle’ still shows the importance of clear, binding criteria as a reference for directing public pressure at companies and regulatory authorities alike.

    In relation to glyphosate’s reapproval, EU authorities either ignored or distorted recommendations and requirements laid down in their own guidance documents. This represents a ‘soft form’ of impunity compared with the situation in the Global South, where regulations similar to those in the EU often do not exist.

    Creating sufficient political pressure to enforce respect for laws, regulations and, ultimately, human rights, is an important issue in both parts of the world. Logically, access to highly visible media facilitates the creation of this political pressure. In the case of glyphosate in the EU, this was achieved in large part thanks to a broad coalition of actors supporting clearly defined demands.

    The joint and coordinated action of diverse NGOs enabled a ‘non-linear’ amplification of their impact and offers a promising example to others of how to promote a common cause.

    Ref and sources..https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...C/core-reader#
    TRUTH and BALANCE

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!



    close-up of a bee’s eye

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    Bees take over Michigan Music Festival!

    I for one will join in with anyone, I don't care what color you are as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this Earth - Malcolm X / Tsar Of The Star

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    Flowers can hear bees and make sweeter nectar when bees are nearby.
    https://www.newscientist.com/article...box=1562758977


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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    You Can Thank Insects for Many Human Inventions

    By Eric R. Eaton

    Insects are beneficial in more ways than simply as pollinators of crops, decomposers of decaying organic matter, controllers of agricultural pests, and food for other wildlife. They also inspire new inventions or improvements to existing ones through unique anatomical features and behaviors strikingly similar to our own. Even in this digital age, we continue to extract ideas and materials from insects and their relatives.

    https://entomologytoday.org/2019/07/...an-inventions/

    Insects Did It First

    In the new edition of our book Insects Did It First (Xlibris, 2018), coauthor Gregory S. Paulson, Ph.D., and I explore many insect-initiated inventions, from antifreeze and chemical weapons to navigation and communication. There is even an insect, in its nymph stage, that possesses cog-like “gears” that allow it to jump farther, more efficiently.

    Thanks to observations of vespid wasps, we have the modern pulp and paper industry, which began in 1719 due to the persistence of French naturalist and physicist Antoine Ferchault Réaumer. More recently, the chainsaw got an upgrade when Joe Cox of Portland, Oregon, watched the wood-boring larva of Trichocnemis spiculatus (sometimes known as the “ponderous borer”) and noticed that the insect’s opposable mandibles were highly effective in gnawing through wood.

    Cox devised a new saw chain with “right” and “left” cutting teeth. He began manufacturing the new design in 1947 in the basement of his home. Oregon Sawchain Corporation eventually became Omark Industries, an international company.

    Still Learning After All These Years

    Surely, in this technological age, insects have nothing more to teach us. Not so. Sometimes we recognize the achievements of insect evolution after we have accidentally duplicated them with our own devices. The insect equivalents of radar and sonar help moths, mantids, and other arthropods detect and avoid bats. We have learned that dung-rolling scarab beetles navigate by celestial objects, the ancient predecessor to GPS.

    The emerging science of biomimicry creates robotic insects, or in some cases allows a human to “operate” a live insect as if it were a robot, capitalizing on the acute senses of the invertebrates that humans have long since lost. Studying the eyes and brains of dragonflies has led to new algorithms for visual tracking that are 20 times faster than previous generations of such software.

    Beyond A Utilitarian View

    The challenge of today may be to avoid a strictly utilitarian view of other organisms, whereby a species is expendable if it cannot demonstrate economic value that can be measured in dollars.

    The idea that insects can provide us with new chemicals for medicines and manufacturing (“bioprospecting”) is a powerful argument for invertebrate conservation. So is biomimicry, but that has led us to attempt to replace pollinating insects with microdrones. Walmart filed an application for a patent on miniature drones on March 8, 2018, citing evidence of declines in bee populations and the need to supplement the pollination services provided by insects.

    Japanese scientists had previously built drones for the cross-pollination of lilies, but videos of the machines in action exposed how clumsy they are compared to the direct and delicate maneuvers of bees. Considering that insects have been on the planet for millions of years longer than Homo sapiens, perhaps it is time to realize that there are some things that cannot be improved upon.

    Proceeding With Caution and Respect

    Replacing bees and other insects with machines cheapens our humanity in other ways, too. There is no substitute for interactions with other living organisms, though we seem hell-bent on trying to substitute them anyway. Our knowledge of how insects interact with other species, including our own, is woefully inadequate. Entomology’s greatest redeeming quality is its potential for discovery, and the blossoming fields of citizen science and science communication allow anyone to have an impact on our collective knowledge.

    Observations have led to a better understanding of the geographic distribution of different species, led to the discovery of new species, and documented previously unknown behaviors and relationships thanks to videos taken on cell phones. All of this can be shared instantly through social media and online platforms.

    We should be grateful to insects and related arthropods for their inspiration and complexity, and we should continue to learn from them. We must do so, however, with a degree of reverence, rather than an overriding desire for monetary windfalls.

    https://entomologytoday.org/2019/07/...an-inventions/

    link to said book above with a overview

    Insects Did It First
    By Gregory S. Paulson and Eric R. Eaton

    This is a fascinating account of more than eighty insect “firsts.” Velcro, bungee jumping, air-conditioning, and chemical warfare are a few of the firsts covered in this book authored by two professional entomologists. The text is illustrated with humorous anthropomorphized insects. It is written for a general audience but is of special interest to teachers and entomologists.

    https://www.xlibris.com/Bookstore/Bo...=SKU-001208950
    TRUTH and BALANCE

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    Default Re: Calling all light warriors - the Bees need you!

    The liqour that could save our Bees

    I for one will join in with anyone, I don't care what color you are as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this Earth - Malcolm X / Tsar Of The Star

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    I for one will join in with anyone, I don't care what color you are as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this Earth - Malcolm X / Tsar Of The Star

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