Vanising Bees

Apropos the article "If bees die, so do we" (August 6, 2007, Pioneer, Sudhirendar Sharma). Inexplicable human and animal diseases that do not respect national boundaries are on the rise.

For instance, an alarming disease has wiped out 2.4 million beehives across 35 states of America and scientists are working flat out to discover the cause.

It is officially being called Colony Collapse Disorder, but it is actually Vanishing Bee Syndrome. It endangers the food systems that they sustain.

If "Out of 115 crops studied, 87 have been found to depend on pollination and account for one third of global crop production", it is high time Indian Government set up a multi-disciplinary task force (independent of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) to examine the vulnerability of Indian agriculture from this syndrome. If it has happend in US and to the bees, it is a fact that we too are not immune from it. Or are we?

It merits immediate governmental and multi-disciplinary attention. Indeed it would be "foolhardy in the extreme" for the government to turn a blind eye towards the emergenece of this syndrome.

It is a fit case to adopt Precautionary Principle and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) should be asked to submit a report as to whether or not it is aware of the possible dangers to bees from Genetically Modified (GM) crops.

In this regard it is in public interest to provide a comprehensive list of the 24 varieties and hybrids that were approved between May-September, 2006 under nine listed crops, namely Bt Cotton, transgenic okra, tomato cauliflower, brinjal, rice, castor, groundnut and potato along with their health impact assessment and environment impact assessment reports. It would be revealing to note as to how the reports have taken cognisance of the impact on bees that contribute so much to agriculture.

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