Self portraits

Self portraits

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Sane Man Will Dance

"Clothianidin", acrylic on gramophone record (78 rpm), 10" d,

The insecticide clothianidin has been known since 2003 (the same year it gained EPA approval) to be toxic to honeybees. It was banned in several European countries years ago. Other concerns with the chemical include possible immunotoxicity in humans. Studies have linked it to decreased thymus weights in rats, which correlates to this concern as the thymus controls our immune function (through T-lymphocytes or T-cells).

The insecticide is listed on the EPA site as most often used as a seed treatment on corn and canola, to protect against boring insects -- grubs and worms. It presents known toxicity if the seeds are eaten (by songbirds), or if it reaches our ground water.

Corn and canola are two of the most widely grown and most widely consumed crops in the US, especially in Hispanic/Latino, African, Native American, and African American homes. Additionally, these crops are opportunistic class-wise, as they are often cheaper than other oils or grain products. Of course, as Michael Pollan points out in "The Omnivore's Dilemma", we are all full of corn knowingly or not from the additives we use -- HFCS in virtually everything, and cornstarch, also, found in many foods from yogurt to baked goods to condiments. Baking powder, you'd think would just be an acid salt and an alkaline component (usually baking soda) that get together to create air pockets in your muffins while they bake, which cause them to rise (NaHCO3 + H+ → Na+ + CO2 + H2O).  But, no, the acid and base salt are mixed into an inert starch, which is usually cornstarch. So, -- it's everywhere.

Besides corn and canola, on a CA Pesticide Info Site, the main food crops that clothianidin is used on include: table and raisin grapes, wine grapes, and pears.
From the EPA report:

Clothianidin is highly toxic to honey bees on an acute contact basis (LD50 > 0.0439 μg/bee). It has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen. In honey bees, the effects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects in the queen.
Clothianidin as a likely rationale for colony collapse disorder.

Also, for more info from EPA's on the insecticide, look here:

"No sane man will dance." - Cicero (106-43 B.C.)