Thanks to the lobbying clout of global corporations, governments worldwide tend to take a dangerously bassackwards approach to environmental regulation. They accept a corporate product as safe, until it's proven otherwise – usually after a great many funerals.
Thanks to the lobbying clout of global corporations, governments worldwide tend to take a dangerously bassackwards approach to environmental regulation. They accept a corporate product as safe, until it’s proven otherwise – usually after a great many funerals.
A better approach is called “The Precautionary Principle,” requiring proof that a product is safe before a corporation pushes it on the public. The European Union recently considered putting this sensible principle into action – but, in the face of furious corporate lobbying, the EU ran bassackwards.
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At issue was a proposed two-year ban on some pesticides called “neonicotinoids,” widely suspected of causing mass die-offs of honeybee colonies. That’s a big problem – for bees and for us humans, too. Of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, 71 are pollinated by honeybees. No bees, no food.
So, proposed EU scientists, let’s remove some of these chemicals for a couple of years to try saving the bees… and our food supply. “NO YOU DON’T,” shrieked Bayer and Syngenta, two giant chemical conglomerates that make neonicotinoids. Their lobbyists swarmed EU members, wailing that there is no “scientific certainty” that their poisons are causing this looming catastrophe for humankind.
Of course, the whole idea of the modest moratorium was to test the probability that these pesticides are killing-off the global bee population. With so much at stake, shouldn’t we take the small precaution of scientifically examining whether that probability is, in fact, a certainty? “No,” said the profiteers, and that was that. Throwing caution to the wind, EU members narrowly voted to let the selfish interests of two corporations prevail over precaution and the public interest.
Neonicotinoids might not kill us, but greed certainly will.
“Hoping to Save Bees, Europe Is to Vote on a Pesticide Ban,” The New York Times, March 15, 2013.
“EU Vote Allows ‘Disastrous Chemical Armageddon’ on Bees to Continue,” www.commondreams.com, March 15, 2013.