Whole Foods, Monsanto Support Honeybee Health
To illustrate how major declines in honeybee populations threaten the availability of many fresh ingredients, the University Heights Whole Foods Market store removed 237 of 453 products (see bottom photo) — including apples, onions, avocados, carrots, lemons and summer squash.
To help support bee populations, for every pound of organic summer squash sold at Whole Foods Market stores through June 25, the company will donate 10 cents to The Xerces Society for pollinator preservation.
The Whole Foods honeybee initiative comes on the heels of Monsanto’s honeybee health summit, June 13-15, at the company’s Chesterfield Village Research Center. Monsanto says the event, hosted by Project Apis m. (PAm) and Monsanto’s Honey Bee Advisory Council (HBAC) included about 100 academics, beekeepers, industry associations and government representatives.
At the summit, Monsanto and PAm provided year-one results of their three-year partnership, intended to educate and provide forage with growers and landowners in California about the value of planting honeybee forage on land they would otherwise leave unused. Some 130 percent of the first year’s goal was achieved, yielding an area of 450 acres of forage, Monsanto says.
The company also says that based largely on HBAC’s counsel, it has focused its bee health research efforts on finding a way to control the Varroa mite, which is a carrier of various viruses that are harmful to honeybees. A report by the US Department of Agriculture and the EPA published last month found multiple factors contribute to honeybee colony decline, including parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. The researchers pinned a large part of the blame on the Varroa mite, and said it is not clear whether pesticides are a major factor.
Monsanto says its BioDirect technology has the potential to control a problem insect — such as the Varroa mite — on a beneficial insect without harm to the beneficial insect.
In April, the European Union voted to impose a two-year ban on neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides linked to bee decline.
Monsanto, which uses the pesticides to coat its seeds, and other agrichemical companies say their pesticides are not responsible for honeybee decline.
Photo Credit: Whole Foods Market
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