Pesticides and Bees

News | Vienna Review | June 2013




Policies for Hundi and Sumsi, 7 May

by Renate Graber

There is something to comparing people with animals. We are now aware, thanks to our left-footed Environment Minister [Nikolaus Berlakovich], that the environment is vital for animals – and they are more important than either pesticides or business. After the turbulent days in which the low-level buzzing over the danger to the bee population posed a threat to his job, he has finally come up with a nifty about-face. The use of such hazardous materials shall be banned in Austria. […]

A nation breathes a sigh of relief: if Austria’s Finance Minister [Maria Fekter] can’t protect our sacred banking secrecy, at least we can hold high the protection of bees. Sumsi – the bee – is dead, long live the honey bee.

Maybe politicians should think more of animals. It is a proven success with managers, who attend busy-bee courses like "What executives might learn from wolves" (sitting around howling?).





Apis mellifera, 7 May

by Reinhard Göweil

The "Western Honey Bee" (the headline gives its scientifically correct name) is a symbol for industriousness, and at the heart of a hard-working, prosperous state.

So Nikolaus Berlakovich did well to change his completely mystifying position about the use of certain pesticides.

The EU announced the ban in any case; from the start, Berlakovich took a minority view. But it’s gratifying to see that he has changed that point of view; in fact, on 15 May the [conservative] ÖVP unanimously agreed on the pesticide ban in the Agriculture Committee of the Austrian Parliament […].

This prosperous country should be happy with such a decision. Yet, the Agriculture Minster argued his initial rejection of the pesticide ban with a potential income shortfall from agriculture amounting to "€50 to 60 million". The reason: Many canola, corn and legume crops thrive only if such chemicals are used.

The bee is also helping him out of this predicament. The economic benefit from the pollination of crops in Austria is at least €200 million; EU-wide it is estimated at €14.4 billion.




Honey for the Minister, 16 May

by Alfred Dorfer

The industrious bees and the universities in Austria have more in common than it may seem at first glance.

A closer look reveals that in both cases it has to do with tuition fees, which are once again in the hot seat of political debate. But this time in a somewhat different context. […]

Tuition fees can also be understood as those fees that have to be paid in order to go in search of certain knowledge yet to be discovered, but that does not yet exist. This knowledge is then obtained by means of studies.

However an interesting detail has come to light, to which [Agriculture Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich] owed his profound knowledge of the common habitat of the honey bee and corn root borer. […] That is, that there are pesticide manufacturers who determined – in studies they financed – that the pesticides used to kill off the harmful insects have absolutely nothing to do with the death of bees. The conclusion is not surprising: The poison manufacturers are just as much partners of the Ministry as are the bees, as the minister never tires of repeating.


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