Friday, September 04, 2009

vanishing bees

RegMorrison | The wholesale disappearance of bees, sometimes called the Vanishing Bee Syndrome or Colony Collapse Disorder, has resulted in the loss of a quarter of all managed honey-bee colonies in the US since 1990. And a growing number of European and Asian nations, have reported similar declines.

Despite intensive research, the collapse of US bee populations remains largely unexplained. Two species of mite have been implicated in some of this carnage, but about a quarter of the current decline seems unrelated to any specific cause.

A variety of agencies have been suggested, but the multiplicity of potential villains suggests that it may, in fact, be due to a degradation of the bees’ immune system.

Such a massive extinction of bees in the US, home of Genetically Modified crops, should be cause for extreme alarm here in Australia, given the current deterioration in agricultural environments, the acceleration of global warming, and the imminent acceptance of GM crops.

Widespread ignorance of genetics and the evolutionary process is a common impediment to grasping the nature and size of this problem. For example, there is a general belief that there are specific ‘genes for’ this or that structure or behaviour—even some academics have been seduced by this comforting myth. In fact of course, genes code for protein. Nothing more. Structure and behaviour are emergent by-products that inevitably arise from the administration of that protein. Reg Morrison's website.