TomatoFest Reports Loss of Honeybees and Insect Species Worldwide Threatens to Compromise the Food Chain and Foretells a Catastrophic Collapse of Nature’s Ecosystems

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The plight of one beekeeper is symptomatic of an existential threat to the functioning of all ecosystems. We are in a crisis!

The most massive poisoning of the environment in the history of humanity.

Gary Ibsen, founder of TomatoFest® Heirloom Tomato Seeds, grower of more than 650 varieties of certified organic, heirloom tomatoes and co-founder of World Tomato Society bemoans the dramatic loss of our honeybees and the wide scale poisoning of our environment.

“Grieving the loss of my friend’s honey business, I was inspired to investigate WHY. I felt obligated to ring an alarm bell because I see an undeniable threat to our future food availability and diversity,” says Ibsen.

In 1950 there were 6 million colonies of bees in the US. Since 2006 we’ve lost more than 12 million bee colonies due to what was initially described as Colony Collapse Disorder. We currently have only 2.5 million bee colonies in the US and we are losing and replacing almost all of these in the course of one season.

The honey crop in 2013 was the lowest since records had been kept. Before these colony loss problems began a typical national honey crop was 260 million pounds. This past season the crop was 115 million pounds.

Bees are responsible for about 1/3 of everything we eat from all of the plants that require pollination. Globally, the honeybee in collaboration with a wide variety of other bee species are responsible for pollinating 80% of all flowering plants. Honeybees through their duties of pollination are responsible for $15 billion/year in Ag production.

The most widely used pesticides of this kind are of the family called neonicotinoids. They are water-soluble, taken up by the vascular system of the plant. These pesticides not only kill the bees but also harm the soil, making it virtually inert, causing damage to 200 million acres of farmland and an equal area of urban and suburban land nationally. The effects of these pesticides have been persistent, pernicious, and dramatic and they have had a devastating effect on our global environment.

Tom Theobald, a friend of forty-six years, started beekeeping in 1975, creating the Niwot Honey Farm in Niwot, Colorado. In a couple years he was up to 200 colonies of bees. The largest honey crop he ever had was 15,000 pounds. Before all the problems began an average year’s harvest of honey was 6000-8000 pounds. By 1995 Tom started seeing bee losses from mites and over the next few years the losses continued in spite of his management. Theobald then stated to the media, “What we are experiencing is the most massive poisoning of the environment in the history of humanity, and the people who have brought us this catastrophe, those who are profiting and regulating the use of these pesticides, are doing everything they can to make sure people don’t know what is occurring.”

How Bad Is It?:

  • Because of the damages to the environment DDT was banned in 1972. Its highest usage was in 1959 at 80 million pounds.
  • The EPA is reporting 4 million pounds of neonicotinoid use annually. This represents only 10% of the actual use. The other 90% is seed treatment which the EPA has chosen not to regulate, but instead hide from public view under what is called the Treated Articles Exclusion.
  • Of that 90% only 5-10% actually goes into the plant. The remainder goes into the soil and groundwater where it can remain poisonous for years.
  • Neonicotinoids are 5,000 -10,000 times more toxic than DDT for honeybees.
  • About 40 million pounds of neonicotinoids are used each year. This represents the toxic equivalent of approximately 400 BILLION pounds of DDT each year.

The End Result:
The groundwater throughout the US has been poisoned at many times the threshold established for the onset of environmental damage. The result is water contamination at toxic levels, the effects of which are cumulative and irreversible. This not only kills honeybees but many other species which are also in steep decline. The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.

The loss of our honeybees is just an indicator of a much broader crisis. Between the agrichemical industry priority for profits with disregard for the consequences, and the corporate lobbying of the government to influence politicians and EPA regulators, we are all being poisoned for profit. Fines for these corporations do not adequately address the problem. What we need to do is prosecute those EPA and corporate decision makers as the criminals for knowingly poisoning us, and the planet.

Looking into the future, our planet must produce more food in the next four decades than all of the farmers in history have produced in the past 8,000 years. As Theobald said, “We need to involve the younger generation, or our children will inherit these problems.”

Tom Theobald, created the Niwot Honey Farm in 1975, was co-founder of Boulder County Beekeepers Assoc. and the last county bee inspector in Colorado (a position created in 1889 and retired in 2000). Tom had interviews that can be seen on UTube, with Dan Rather

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Gary Ibsen
TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds
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