As the chart below illustrates, the life of bees, like the rest of nature, is complicated.
But Newsnight seems to think all can be explained by a Government rep and a cult follower. The BBC really ought to know better; their science reporting is often woeful and on this occasion they broke every rule of proper representation. Newsnight this evening (29th April 2013) had a feature on the bee crisis. To ‘discuss’ the issue they had two equally daft representatives. I’d like to link to the ‘iplayer’ version but it’s not up yet.
I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to bees so what I, and presumably millions of other viewers, need from Newsnight is an explanation of the issues. What we got was a spat between two people who were not capable of rational discourse because neither of them were prepared to explain the issues without having other agenda getting in the way. On one hand we had a UK Government Advisor (was that Prof Ian Boyd? I missed his introduction) who seemed not to be able to answer the simplest of questions concerning the precautionary principle and what the ban is meant to achieve and rattled on about needing evidence before a ban on neonicotinoids can take place.
But what we need to understand is whether or not the ban will provide us with such evidence concerning bee health and pollination rates. We need to know how else evidence can be gathered if not by a temporary ban, given that neonicotinoids are ubiquitous. He offered no alternative strategies. In opposition to him was Heidi Herman, a representative of the ghastly Biodynamic, Anthroposophical and racist Natural Beekeeping Trust (http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org ). Like many Steineristas, she wanted all pesticides banned but also stated that there was already scientific evidence showing that the ban was correct – not that she offered to explain it.
It has been reported in TheGuardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/15/bee-harming-pesticides-escape-european-ban) that UK Government advice comes from studies that have not faired well in the scientific press but Paxman didn’t even touch on it. So we, the public, are left entirely in the dark.
The BBC seems in love with Biodynamics and I wonder how many people watching Newsnight know about the Natural Beekeeping Trust’s real agenda? The flavour of Newsnight’s piece was really very unpalatable – I don’t want all news to be milk and honey but I do want my science to be the bees knees.