1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

American agriculture on precipice of collapse

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by civ_king, May 9, 2013.

  1. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    16,368
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/08/honey-bees-threatened-colonies-extinct-2012

    Thoughts?
     
  2. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Messages:
    19,588
    Location:
    Sydney
    Disband the EPA, that way the Free market and Jesus can take care of it.
    Besides wouldn't the drought be the most likely cause ?

    EDIT: Just read the wiki, looks like a combination of the drought, and parasites.

     
  3. Bootstoots

    Bootstoots Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Messages:
    9,437
    Location:
    Mid-Illinois
    Colony collapse disorder is probably due to a combination of factors, no one of which is solely responsible. Because neonicotinoids are likely a top contributor and a factor we can control, I think we should follow the EU's lead and ban them immediately (over the howls of chemical companies) and see if the incidence of CCD drops. It won't prevent it from happening, but it will probably lower its incidence.

    This is a serious situation and we need to act now. We should also be looking at taking other measures that have been shown to reduce stress to bee colonies.
     
  4. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    Greatest single problem with American agriculture is the lessening of genetic diversity amongst our core crops.

    But I'm glad they finally figured out what the hell was wrong with the honeybees. I've been tracking this story on and off for years.
     
  5. Silurian

    Silurian Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    7,567
    The diversity amongst the bees is being reduced as well due to mass production of bees.
     
  6. Tarquelne

    Tarquelne Follower of Tytalus

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2001
    Messages:
    3,715
    There's some interesting possible systemic problems with how the bees themselves are generally raised. For example, and IIRC: Keepers using combs divided into smaller cells (the size bees make in natural hives) had far less trouble with CCD.
     
  7. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Bees are more crucial to food crops than most people realize. They pollinate nearly all of them.

    And do so more effectively than any other method.
     
  8. Arctic Daishi

    Arctic Daishi Warlord

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    Messages:
    159
    Location:
    Future Gadget Lab
    According to Wikipedia this is happening all over the (Western) world, not just the United States.

     
  9. Earthling

    Earthling Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    8,518
    It's going to start looking weird with at least three separate statements made in the same thread, but it has to be said: Nope, petrochemicals.

    The bee thing remains an interesting and unfortunate story but not really that big of a deal despite media chicken littling over it.
     
  10. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    Are you talking about petrochemical spills or something else?
     
  11. Silurian

    Silurian Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    7,567
    Maybe oil based fertilisers, pesticides etc.
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    50,839
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I guess one day we're basically going to have to create little flying robots that will polinate flowers for us. I've done the math and migrant workers just aren't going to be able to do it.

    The only problem is going to be that we're not going to have any natural honey around.. but at least you'll never get stung by a bee again and hopefully the little robot bees won't try to take over the world.
     
  13. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy You gave me my own tail?

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    19,266
    They don't know why colony collapse is happening. There are theories, insecticide coated seed crops planted with vacuum planters being one of them but that pesky thing, ya know the research, hasn't been able to substantiate that. It's only a theory and it's far from fleshed out. Banning them outright is premature and not a win/win/win like some people think. Seed corn and other crops wind up coated with insecticide not "just because" but because it's efficient. It allows smaller inputs of chemicals than older methods and competing contemporary methods. If you take that off the market, which btw, I almost guarantee you won't cause "howls" from the agricultural sector if research can substantiate them actually being the cause of bee colony collapse(yes farmers understand the benefits of healthy bees, they might even just figure out how to redesign how the same chemicals can be applied in a way that wouldn't be toxic to bees(if indeed the present method actually is)), then different and likely more poisonous or horsepower/resource intensive insect controls will rise or re-rise in place of the insecticide coating on seeds. Thus, imo, premature calling for a blanket ban of them is actually pretty dumb.

    More research needed into actually finding out what is going on - it could be one or a combinations of a whole slew of things. More research needed relatively fast. We should actually be dumping large quantities of money into this, but that would probably cause "howls" from uppity urbanites about agricultural bloat and spending on the rural elite and <fill in more random stuff here>.
     
  14. Kaitzilla

    Kaitzilla Lord Croissant

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    10,421
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    America!
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d...s-best-medicine-for-colony-collapse-disorder/

    High fructose corn syrup, is there any evil to which you will not stoop?!!!
     
  15. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy You gave me my own tail?

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    19,266
    It's a convenient punching bag for sure.
     
  16. peter grimes

    peter grimes ...

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2005
    Messages:
    13,314
    Location:
    Queens, New York
    I agree with FarmBoy - a blanket ban sounds like a hasty gamble. Perhaps there are other reason why the EU policy makers wanted to try a 2 year ban, and this link was just one more reason?


    In other news, it's now legal to keep bees within the 5 boroughs of New York City. I've heard of people keeping rooftop hives, but just the other day I saw a hive in a yard in Brooklyn. The owner had lots of flowering plants for them, and there were bees on the flowers in every yard I passed.

    Bees generally won't sting you unless you're messing with their hive. Stay away from the hive and you'll be fine.

    Hornets and some wasps, on the other hand... they'll hunt you down for sport.
     
  17. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    I'm rather confused. You seem to be all talking about honey bees being used for pollination.

    As far as I know, honey bees can be used for pollinating, traditionally in orchards, I believe.

    But bumble bees seem to be used more frequently, especially in green houses.

    http://www.pollinator.org/Resources/BEEIMPORTATION_AUG2006.pdf

    (I have never been hunted by a wasp or hornet. What reason would they have to do so?)
     
  18. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy You gave me my own tail?

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    19,266
    The confusion about "agricultural collapse" as termed in the OP and sometimes in the media might come from misunderstanding around what crops are actually pollinated by honey bees. Which isn't all of them. Super basic overview on some different agricultural crops and the type of pollination they use if you are bored. http://sepdxseedbank.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/insect-and-wind/(which does support your assertions on bumblebees) Also the wiki entry on pollination is pretty good if you scroll down to the section on agriculture.

    To satisfy the nefarious programming of the evil little brains behind those compound eyes.
     
  19. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy You gave me my own tail?

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    19,266
    Had some time tonight and figured I would go into a little detail about what the theory specifically is that might be causing bee colony collapse. It has to do with the combination of a specific type of pesticide with a specific type of planter, both of which are common.

    This is seed corn:



    It is the color it is because it has been coated in a dual fungicide/insecticide(the purpleish is anyways, the white is talcum powder which is used as a lubricant so the seed flows evenly). The color is intentional to let you know it's been treated. The reason you do this is to kill fungus and bugs that destroy seed after it's been planted but before the plant germinates and breaks through the soil. This particular method is used because it is effective while actually using a very small amount of raw chemicals. The chemicals are relatively specific and they're exactly where and when you want to protect something. Alternative methods of control for the same pests would possibly have to be blanket sprayed at a different time of year to attempt to kill the same insects at a different point in their lifecycle - using far greater volume and more widely dispersed chemical application.

    The potential problem for bees comes in when that seed is planted with one of these:





    This is a vacuum planter(the very one we use, in fact!). Planting seeds needs to be relatively precise both in depth, location, and spacing. We aim for about 34,000 plants per acre so you plant 5-10% more seeds than that to account for loss and hope you wind up with about the right stand of plants come growing season. The way this planter achieves that precision is by creating 6-12 inches of water worth of suction from the hydraulically powered black fan system upon which the triangular slow-moving-vehicle sign is mounted(visible from the rear shot). It has tubes that then run down to each of the 8 seed boxes(8 in this particular planter), which hold the seed corn. Those tubes attach to the flat side of these plates:



    The vacuum sucks one kernel at a time into the dimple on the other side and then the disk rotates past the vacuum tube and drops the seed into the ground at your calibrated rate.

    Now the actual point - the vacuum pressure sucks just a little bit of that fungicide/insecticide dust off of the kernel as it passes through the plate. That dust then goes through the system and is vented at very low density. The theory is that the rate is low enough that we've never noticed that level of airborn chemical exposure from this particular insecticide having an adverse impact on bees but that perhaps we are wrong about that through year over year continued use. It's still just a theory, we haven't been able to replicate or prove it particularly with all of the compounding variables that could possibly be causing colony collapse instead.

    Just a little more info about the topic at hand if you were bored enough to read!
     
  20. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Yes. But. But. Corn is wind pollinated. As the crop matures there's really no forage available to a bee in a stand of corn. They're really not going to be in the area in significant numbers, are they?

    Still, that's not to say there's no effect, of course.
     

Share This Page