n ZEMBLA’s March 2011 documentary ‘Murder of the Honeybee’ it emerged that the Netherlands has the largest bee mortality of any European country. Scientists and beekeepers from around the world believe that pesticides are the primary cause of the declining bee population.
The pesticide manufacturers deny any causal link. In the Netherlands, the chief governmental adviser on the topic, Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), doesn’t consider pesticides as the principal cause of plummeting bee populations.
Due to significant economic interests, the connection between the death of the bees and the use of pesticides is a sensitive subject on The Hague’s political agenda. ZEMBLA’s research showed that Wageningen University, the principal adviser to State Secretary for Agriculture Bleker, has financial ties with chemical concern Bayer and other manufacturers of pesticides.
Food Production under Threat
The widespread bee mortality poses a huge threat to our food production. Without bees, there will be no fruit, nuts, chocolate, coffee or vegetables. Eighty per cent of earth’s plants rely on bee pollination for reproductive or evolutionary purposes.
The entire plant is poisoned
The explosion of bee mortality coincides with the introduction of imidacloprid, a new type of insecticide, launched on the market in the 1990s. The effects of the pesticide are ongoing because it is impregnated into seeds, thus poisoning the entire plant. Bees coming into contact with the pollen take the toxin back with them to the bee colony. The bees sicken and die.
Agricultural pesticides still in use
After the programme of March 2011, a variety of new scientific publications confirmed that agricultural pesticides, also known as ‘neonicotinoids’ are detrimental to bees. But these products are still used on a large scale in Dutch agriculture.
In part II of ‘Murder of the Honeybee’, ZEMBLA asks: how can the Dutch government pursue its pesticides policy by continuing to hide behind non-independent research?