Today, I posted on twitter (@ericjoyce) that I’m not especially worried about bees. Cue people who are terribly interested in bees to fire personalised abuse at me. Don’t I know that bees are essential to the whole food chain and that everyone would die without them? Why am I such an arsehole? Have I gotten pissed and started beating-up even bees now? That sort of gig. Well, what I am aware of is that the unelected EU Commission has decided to try to ban some pesticides which bee people blame for the reduction in bees in the UK and elsewhere. However, the UK government, which is elected, has suggested that the research is inconclusive and that it might be a good idea to look further into it before banning things willy nilly.
Two points (at least) occur to me. The first is that the EU parliament has very recently tried twice to pass such legislation and failed. That means the measure isn’t hacking it democratically. When the EU Commission decides to crack on regardless of votes in cases such as this, then it does nothing but sow public discontent when the EU can frankly least afford it. The second is that bee people have resorted to the age-old single-issue campaigning device of saying that if you don’t agree with them then you must be on the side of pure evil – in this case extinguishing the entire bee population. No, guys, it’s really not that I want to kill all bees; more that I just don’t buy your narrative (yet?) of what’s going on with bees. For now, the whole thing seems reminiscent of the anti-GM lobby which did so much damage to agricultural progress in the developing world. Pesticides sound like an automatic pejorative to some, but they help make growing things efficiently in difficult environments, in the poorest of countries, possible. Let’s hang on before we call for bans and see what proper scientific study reveals.
Anyway, pass the toast.