gallery Food, Bees, and Pesticides

Pesticides and toxic modern agricultural chemicals don’t just pose a threat to people. Animals, insects, birds, aquatic animals, trees, and plants are all affected by toxic chemicals. Be it through direct exposure, residues on food, or contaminated water–in one way or another these substances find their way to us.

Most people today know that the honeybees are in danger–what is effectively termed as Colony Collapse Disorder.


THE CULPRITS: Organophosphate and Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Most of our food supply depends on bees for pollination. Crops pollinated by bees include: Apples, Avocados, Blueberries, Cherries, Apricots, Raspberries, Watermelon, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Almonds, Peanuts, Lentils, Legumes, Olives, Onions, Broccoli, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Melons, Carrots, Kiwi, Cucumbers, Cranberries, Celery, Cauliflower, Macadamia Nuts, Peaches, Sunflowers, Tangerines, Lavender, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Pumpkins, Squash, Peas, Cotton, Soybeans, Beets…

Organophosphate pesticides are dangerous primarily because they’re cholinesterase inhibitors. Organophosphate pesticides and herbicides include neonicotinoids, parathion and Roundup. Parathion was first produced as a weapon of war by the chemical company IG Farben (Bayer) during World War II. While the EPA recognizes the danger of parathion and has restricted its use on some crops, this class of pesticides is still used on the following: alfalfa, almonds, barley, cabbage, corn, cotton, dried beans, dried peas, grass, hops, lentils, oats, onions, pecans, canola (rapeseed), rice, rye, soybeans, sugar beets, sunflower, sweet potato, walnuts, wheat and white potatoes.


“Cholinesterase (ko-li-nes-ter-ace) is one of many important enzymes needed for the proper functioning of the nervous systems of humans, other vertebrates, and insects. Certain chemical classes of pesticides, such as organophosphates (OPs) and carbamates (CMs) work against undesirable bugs by interfering with, or ‘inhibiting’ cholinesterase. While the effects of cholinesterase inhibiting products are intended for insect pests, these chemicals can also be poisonous, or toxic, to humans in some situations.” (Read more at Extoxnet)


According to the EPA, “The neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides with a common mode of pesticidal action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. All of the neonicotinoids were registered after 1984 and were not subject to reregistration.

Some uncertainties have been identified since their initial registration regarding the potential environmental fate and effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly as they relate to pollinators. Data suggest that neonicotinic residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants and may represent a potential exposure to pollinators.

Adverse effects data as well as beekill incidents have been reported, highlighting the potential direct and/or indirect effects of neonicotinic pesticides. Therefore, among other refinements to ecological risk assessment during registration review, we will consider potential effects of the neonicotinoids to honeybees and other pollinating insects.” Read more at the EPA site

HEALTH EFFECTS of Neonicitinoids and Organophosphates include nausea, headaches, weakness, difficulty breathing, respiratory arrest, vomiting, abdominal cramps, blurred vision, paralysis, coma, and neurotoxic interference with the central nervous system. As neurotoxins, these pesticides are capable of contributing to and causing many of the diseases that affect the nervous system and brain functioning, including: memory disorders, confusion, behavioral changes, autism, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, cancer, birth defects, childhood cancer, and tragically much more.

Soon after exposure to organophosphate pesticides, the human body converts the chemicals into altered forms called metabolites. Two organophosphate metabolites turned up in the test of Bill Moyers’ urine. Of the five most likely pesticides he could have been exposed to, one is for home use – pest strips and bug sprays; the other four are used as pesticides on food crops.

Originally, organophosphates were developed as nerve-gas agents for chemical warfare. They work by paralyzing muscles, and in large amounts they can kill humans and other species in the same way that they kill bugs.

According to the EPA, all organophosphates are toxic to the nervous system. They can interfere with vision, learning and memory. Chronic exposure may lead to disorientation, severe depression, irritability, confusion, headache, speech difficulties, delayed reaction times, nightmares, sleepwalking and drowsiness or insomnia, as well as numbness, cramping and weakness in the legs. In higher doses, people may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dizziness, eye pain, blurred vision, slurred speech, loss of reflexes, twitching, tremors of the tongue or eyelids, and eventually, paralysis of the body extremities and the respiratory muscles. The pesticides may also cause liver problems and stomach inflammation.

Young children may be especially vulnerable. According to the National Academy of Sciences, if exposure to these neurotoxic compounds occurs during the prenatal and early childhood period of brain development it “could result in permanent loss of brain function,” even at exposure levels believed to be safe for adults.

For more information, read the report from PBS, “Organophosphate Pesticides“.

Two of the largest mass deaths of bees ever recorded involve neonicotinoid pesticides produced by Bayer. In June 2013, Wilsonville, Oregon: after trees were sprayed with Safari (a trade name for the deadly neonicotinoid pesticide), thousands of bumblebees perished. Then in 2014, after GMO-corn infused with Bayer’s clothianidin was planted in Ontario Canada, 37 million bees perished! If it’s too toxic for bees, it’s too toxic for me!

Syngenta also manufactures neonicotinoids. In 2002 they settled and paid Bayer for the right to distribute Thiamethoxame. These neonics are most commonly applied to corn, canola, soybeans, sorghum, sugar beets, and cotton though they may soon also be applied as a seed treatment for crops such as wheat, corn, rice and soybeans.

Wherever these chemicals are used, death follows. The health of the bee population is indicative of the health of our environment and what may become of ourselves. Impairment and death caused by toxic pesticides clearly demonstrates the poisonous state created in the world around us. Surely our health is being compromised daily much like the bees’ health. Because we are much larger organisms, the overall exposure can easily be overlooked and may seem harmless. However, this is not necessarily so. We may still face a fate as tragic and painful. The truth is that pesticides can either cause imminent danger when exposure is at high levels, or the threat can be extended over time through small doses, each one bioaccumulating and ever-so-slowly and quietly increasing the level of toxins within us.


  • DON’T USE TOXIC PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES on your lawn. If you have them dispose of them through your local hazardous home chemical trash collection or drop off center. These substances will seep through soil and contaminate groundwater, which for many of us becomes our drinking water. This unfortunately is the lifecycle path of these chemicals once they enter the environment.  Share the dangers of these chemicals with your friends and neighbors, maybe your whole neighborhood will switch to toxin-free gardening. 
  • Use natural methods to keep your garden pesticide free. Support farmers who utilize organic, biodynamic, and IPM (integrated pest management) methods, better for you and better for bees.  Find nontoxic pesticide recipes here.
  • Contact the FDA, the EPA as well as your senators and congress people. Despite the threat presented by and damage caused by neonicotinoids, Syngenta is asking the EPA to raise the allowable levels of the company’s neonicotinoid product, Thiamethoxam, on certain crops. Lend your voice to the call for less toxic exposure–currently the EPA is considering risk assessments for this and other neonicitinoid pesticides, see the 2016 calendar here. You can submit a request or letter to the EPA here, or write them a letter to this address:

          Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Pesticide Programs, Mail Code 7506C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington DC 20460

  • Sign the Petition: Though the EPA’s initial public comment period has closed for Thiamethoxam, it can’t hurt to add your name to the petition to stop Syngenta’s Thiamethoxam, easily sign it here.

Feel free to contact Syngenta as well:

           Syngenta Corporate Headquarters

           3411 Silverside Road, Suite 100

           Shipley Building, Concord Plaza

           Wilmington, Delaware 19810

           Phone (302) 425-2000

  • Help remove Monsanto’s Michael Taylor from the FDA, sign the petition. 
  • Help Repeal the Monsanto Protection Act (Section 735 of HR 933). Without warning, without discussion, without participation or involvement of its people, the government signed a bill with a sinister rider attached. To avoid a government shutdown in 2014, President Obama signed the spending bill HR 933. HR 933 included the Farmer Assurance Provision, a provision clearly designed by the monster inself, Monsanto. This little rider effectively limits citizens’ rights and provides supernatural safeguards and protection to Monsanto, Bayer, and all the other toxic GMO and pesticide peddlers. In a very anti-American manner, this act voids the courts’ power to stop, stall or slow the progression of GMOs, even if and when serious health risks are finally determined.
  • Avoid Endocrine Disruptors: Pesticides are notorious endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption. These include pharmaceuticals; dioxin and dioxin-like compounds; polychlorinated biphenyls; dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and other pesticides; and plasticizers such as bisphenol-A. Endocrine disruptors may also be found in many everyday products, including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics and pesticides. From the National Institutes of Health
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Bee spotted in Chicago


As shocking as it may seem, that is the green reality!