- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Thought your readers would want to know about this. I just bought a small everbearing Meyer lemon tree the other day. It was loaded with blooms, which, as they opened and bees came to pollinate them, I noticed all the bees fell down and died at the base of the pot. Shocked, I called the USDA, the local Ag station, and the University Ag folks and told them I had collected over 40 dead bees of all types including bumblebees from this one small plant. I spoke to both plant inspectors and bee/apiary inspectors and they were all concerned. They even sent an investigator out to collect the bees I had saved in a jar.
To make a long story short, the citrus growers are concerned about a pest which they feel will destroy their industry, so they forced a law a few years back to begin requiring all nurseries to spray young plants with a systemic pesticide which kills not only the pest they are after, but also bees of all kinds including honeybees. Being a cancer survivor, I wondered what it might do to my immune system. I was told it remains persistent in the plant for at least 6 months, so I was told not to consume the fruits of the tree for a year just to be safe. The pesticide used, they said, is the same as is used in Advantage or other types of systemics used on dogs and cats to kill fleas and ticks. The use of systemic poisons on food crops has previously been outlawed.
Naturally, we need our pollinators to make most crops, whether it be citrus, watermelons or squash. So whose needs trump whose? We may end up with a citrus industry that can’t pollinate a crop! Especially if these bees that made it back to the hive had more of the insecticide on their backs and legs and spread it to the rest of the colony. Multiply my plant times thousands of plants sold all across Florida and the problem quickly spreads everywhere. And to not tell the buying public that the citrus plants they are buying retain the poison for a long time and that they should not eat the fruit, especially if they have a compromised immune system, seems like we are putting the monied interests of some ahead of a possible environmental disaster and the well-being of our citizens.
Does this remind anyone of DDT and the near extinction of the Brown Pelican? One Ag inspector spoke of taking a course in Agra Terrorism and how this could happen, but I tend to think we will do it to ourselves through unintended consequences of a really bad idea.
Barbara Robbie Blake