Sunday, August 28, 2016

Don’t Bee-lieve the Latest Bee-pocalypse Scare

by Paul Driessen

As stubborn facts ruin their narrative that neonicotinoid pesticides are causing a honeybee-pocalypse, environmental pressure groups are shifting to new scares to justify their demands for “neonic” bans.

Honeybee populations and colony numbers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere are growing. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the actual cause of bee die-offs and “colony collapse disorders” is not neonics, but a toxic mix of predatory mites, stomach fungi, other microscopic pests, and assorted chemicals employed by beekeepers trying to control the beehive infestations.

...However, the flawed data gathering, unjustified assumptions about neonic impacts, and failure to consider the likely effects of multiple bee diseases and parasites make it clear that the CEH model and conclusions are essentially worthless – and should not be used to drive or justify pesticide policies and regulations.

As Prime Minister Jim Hacker quipped in the theatrical version of the British comedy series Yes, Prime Minister: “Computer models are no different from fashion models. They’re seductive, unreliable, easily corrupted, and they lead sensible people to make fools of themselves.”

And yet studies like this constantly make headlines. That’s hardly surprising. Anti-pesticide campaigners have enormous funding and marvelous PR instincts. Researchers know their influence and next grant can depend on issuing studies that garner alarmist headlines and reflect prevailing news themes and imminent government actions. The news media want to sell ads and papers, and help drive public policy-making.

The bottom line is fundamental: correlation does not equal causation. Traffic lights are present at many intersections where accidents occur; but that does not mean the lights caused most or all of the accidents. The CEH authors simply do not demonstrate that a neonic-wild bee cause-effect relationship exists.

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