Bayer Funding of Beekeepers' Association Draws Controversy

Last Updated Jan 19, 2009 6:42 AM EST

Bayer's role (or lack thereof -- the science jury is still out) in the mass death of bees just keeps making news. The annual meeting of the British Beekeepers Association became contentious over a vote on whether the BBKA should endorse certain pesticides. The BBKA executive panel won the vote -- in favor of endorsing pesticides -- but by only a 60/40 margin. As The Barefoot Beekeeper put it:
Despite their arrogant censorship, both on their web site and in their newsletter, and full-bore propaganda from the current president and others, they have won a Pyrrhic victory: they are left with the knowledge that nearly half of their branches contain a majority of members who disagree with their flagship policy.
The issue has been roiling beekepers in the UK ever since it emerged that the BBKA is funded by Bayer. In this BBC video, beekeeper Philip Chandler, a dissenter, makes the case that the BBKA and Bayer ought to be at arm's length, not in bed with each other. He says:
In my opinion ... they should not be endorsing pesticides or other toxins under any conditions whatsoever.
There is something very wrongheaded about an organization that claims to be defending the interests of bees and beekeepers taking money from the manufacturers of pesticides. Having a dialog with them is one thing, but taking money from them is another.
The BBKS acknowledges that not all its membership agrees with the policy but that a clear majority do. Whether Bayer's pesticides are responsible for colony collapse disorder could be answered either by a German investigation or by a U.S. lawsuit against the EPA, both of which seek to uncover information about what Bayer knew and when it knew it.

BNET's previous coverage of Bayer and bee deaths: Is the BBKA too close to Bayer? from Gord Campbell on Vimeo.

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