Death came rapidly for Aldo Machado’s honeybees and within 24 hours of the first signs of sickness among the Apis mellifera, tens of thousands lay dead, their bodies piled in mounds.
The vice president of Rio Grande do Sul beekeeping association was shocked to discover the dead bees. Pesticides killed around half a million bees in Brazil in three months, say researchers at Bloomberg. Pesticide use has increased by 770% between 1990 and 2016.
Of all insects, bees are the most effective and practical method for crop pollination. They can be reared in sufficient numbers and placed wherever and whenever they are required for effective pollination. It has been found that the use of hive bees results in a manifold increase in yields and improvement in the quality of produce.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Brazilian economy, almost 18% of it. The group that controls agriculture is the most powerful and influential in the country and controls everything from culture to politics. The present president was elected with their support and has kept his promise to make this their government. This has, in turn, given them blanket permission to spray any amount of chemicals for higher production.
Brazil has seen a 150% increase of insecticide use between 2000 and 2015 against a minuscule increase of 8.1% expansion of the agricultural area.
Greenpeace says that 40% of the pesticides that Brazil dumps on its fields are “highly or extremely highly toxic,” and much of them would never be allowed into the European Union. Since Bolsonaro took office there have been “constant attacks against our people, Mother Earth, and food sovereignty.” Sonia Guajajara, the activist, and leader of Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil told Unearthed. They represent over 300 indigenous groups in the country.
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The death of 500 million bees endangers the food security of Brazil warns the United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization (FAO). The deaths occurred in 4 Brazilian states. 400 million bees died in Grande do Sul alone. Death spread like an epidemic. Healthy bees were contaminated as they cleared the dead bees from the stricken hives. They died en masse. The pesticides used allegedly contained chemicals banned by the European Union, such as fipronil and neonicotinoids.
The utilization of these dangerous pesticides peaked under the rule of former President Michel Temer and the present President Jair Bolsonaro, reports Unearthed. Their investigations revealed that 193 pesticides and weed killers containing banned chemicals were in use in Brazil. It is now the biggest pesticide buyer in the world.
IMAGE CREDIT: Vasyl Kosolovskyy