A new report by Friends of the Earth has revealed the deceptive public relations tactics used by Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto to manufacture doubt about the negative effects of bee-killing pesticides.
On the eve of Bayer’s Annual Stockholders’ Meeting in Germany, author Michele Simon and environmental group Friends of the Earth released a new report documenting the tactics used by Bayer and other pesticide companies to delay regulatory action on neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key contributor to bee declines.
The European Union banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids, based on strong science indicating that neonics can kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors. However, these pesticides are still widely used in the U.S. despite massive bee losses that threaten vital food crops, from almonds in California to apples in Washington.
The new report, "Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits,” uncovers the deceptive public relations tactics used by Bayer, Swiss-based Syngenta (NYSE: SYT) and U.S.-based Monsanto (NYSE: MON), to deflect blame from their products’ contributions to bee declines.
“These pesticide companies use PR tricks straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook to manufacture doubt about science and fool politicians and the public to delay action, while they keep profiting from bee-killing pesticides,” said Michele Simon, report author and public health attorney who tracks corporate tactics.
PR tactics revealed in the report include:
“It’s important for the media, policy makers and the general public to be alert to these deceptive public relations strategies. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto make billions from bee-killing pesticide products while masquerading as champions of bee health,” said Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth. “Are their profits more important than our food supply? Are they more important than the livelihoods of America’s farmers? Congress must act now to ban neonic pesticides that threaten America’s farmers and our food security.”
In 2013, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the “Saving America’s Pollinators Act,” which seeks to suspend the use of neonics on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all of the available data, including field studies.