A message with a sting

19:20, Feb 04 2013

Millions of people plus Albert Einstein can't be wrong.

Einstein once said - in another example of relativity: "If the bee disappeared from the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."

Well, the clock is ticking.

Example: The British Bee Keepers Association reports that between 2007 and 2008 the bee population in the UK dropped 30 per cent. The scourge has penetrated thousands of hives since. Some United States hive populations are down to 4 per cent.

That is what has driven more than two million people around the world to sign a petition demanding that the European Parliament heed Einstein's prediction and their worries.

The petition's organisers quote chapter and verse in their summary of the worldwide bee crisis.


Four EU countries are already banning the poisonous pesticides which are stripping hives. The official European Food Safety Authority has warned for the first time that certain pesticides are fatal and that substances like neonicotinoid pesticides could be the bee killer.

EU politicians are urging a total ban to halt the devastating results.

But it won't be easy.

Powerful chemical corporates like Bayer has a billion-dollar interest in fighting the claim and has deep pockets.

France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee-killing pesticides. But Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.

One win gave petitioners heart.

In the US last year they raised 1.2 million names on a strong petition forcing US authorities to open formal talks on pesticides.

The petitioners echo Albert Einstein's warning:

On the world: "There's real need for action, with disturbing global decline in the world's bee populations. Bees don't just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90 per cent of plants and crops - with an estimated $40 billion value and over one-third of the food supply in many countries.

"Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables and nuts could vanish from our shelves."

On the European bee crisis: "If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few."

Questions: Are neonicotinoid pesticides used here? If so should they be banned?

In the mailbag:

"It felt quite nostalgic reading your Mortgages and Memories column. We also bought a spec house in Napier in 1965.

"The thrill of being able to choose our wallpaper at 7 shillings and sixpence a roll (75 cents). We splashed out a little for the lounge with something quite classy for 11 shillings and sixpence a roll.

"The kitchen design included a very long useful bench and once again the choice of the latest Formica designs.

"The enthusiasm of making all the drapes for a three-bedroom home on an ancient sewing machine.

"The 3 per cent mortgage rate didn't last long; with my husband's first pay rise it increased to 4 per cent.

"Before today's new homebuyers think how lucky we were back then - I must add: We graded and laid all our lawns (large sections), built all the fences, mixed all the concrete for the driveway and paths by hand-turning in a mixer.

"And when these new lawns grew they were mowed by a push mower.

"I don't recall anyone in our new neighbourhood being overweight or inactive. Good memories!" - Linda Lang

"Your happy memories of your early life experiences in Te Atatu were good reading but you fail to realise that the world has moved on quite a bit since those years. And you forget how you got into the position of being able to own your own home.

"There were no credit cards then and hire purchase only extended credit for a maximum of 18 months. Before you made the commitment to buy you had not already bought the latest TV, the newest car you could get, plus a boat!

"These days many people have no wish to be tied to one place as in owning property and indeed some feel that that is no way to waste your capital as it is better used to own a business to feed the growing family.

"Politicians always seem to think they can control the housing market.

"It hardly needs pointing out that markets are controlled entirely by buyers and sellers, and it is interesting to note that when interest rates were the 16 per cent which you quote, it did not stop people buying homes for themselves.

"People do what they do at the time because they decide that that is the most desirable way for them to go." - Geoff and Rae Cox

TO CONTACT: To contact Pat Booth email offpat@snl.co.nz or write care of this newspaper. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.

Manukau Courier