Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tell the BBKA to stop taking Bayer's dirty money

Dear Beekeeper,

As you are probably aware by now, the British Bee Keepers Association (BBKA) has an arrangement with certain pesticide manufacturers to endorse some of their products as 'bee friendly', despite the fact that they are known to be toxic to bees. They have also failed to make any statement condemning the now widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides, despite the proven fact that they caused the death of millions of bees in Germany this year, and have done so in Italy and France since the turn of the century.

When making statements to the press, the BBKA seems very reluctant to even mention pesticides as a possible cause of problems to bees, despite massive European evidence to the contrary. BBKA secretary Mike Harris was quoted recently in the Yorkshire Post as saying "...Colony Collapse Disorder was caused by the varroa parasite. Pesticides were a separate problem..." (

Earlier in 2008, following the massive bee poisoning incident in Germany, quickly proven to have been caused by Bayer's neonicotinoid seed dressing Clothianidin, the BBKA published a statement about their endorsement of pesticides on their web site, claiming that they had the support of 'the overwhelming majority' of members. They provided an opportunity to comment on this statement and within a matter of a couple of days, 20 beekeepers posted comments condemning their policy as unethical. Their response was to remove the comments from their site, thus censoring their own members views. You can still read the original comments at another site set up for the purpose (not by the BBKA) here -

Many beekeepers consider that the BBKA's financial relationship with Bayer and Syngenta effectively prevents them from fulfilling their prime function as guardians of the interests of bees and beekeeping.

Now the BBKA appears to be planning to extend its endorsement of bee-killing pesticides, by becoming a rubber-stamping body for Bayer, with no requirement for independent testing - merely a review of the manufacturer's own data. You can read the full text of their proposals here

Considering that complete severance of financial ties to pesticide manufacturers could be replaced only a £1 increase in membership fees, it seems remarkable that a national body claiming to act in the best interests of its membership would compromise their integrity so readily and so cheaply.

Bayer is one of the most untrustworthy corporations on the planet, with a record that would shame the most hardened criminal (see their Wikipedia entry, just for starters), yet one of the oldest and once respected beekeepers' organizations thinks that 'taking their word for it' is an acceptable way to assess Bayer's toxic products.

We call upon all beekeepers to make their views on this subject known to the BBKA.

You can send them an email using this form

or perhaps you would like to send the BBKA president, Tim Lovett, a personal message? If so, here is his email address -

Tim Lovett, president of the BBKA, is also Chairman of the Surrey Bee Keepers Association, in which capacity he has circulated this piece of propaganda to his local members in an effort to ensure that his own branch don't cause him embarrassment by voting out the endorsement of pesticides at the next BBKA ADM. It could easily have been written by Bayer's PR team, and will be of interest to students of propaganda - particularly in the way it clumsily makes the connection between voting against pesticide endorsement and 'extremism'.

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