Corn grower impact on bees just “buzz”

Tom Gillis
Corn Grower, River Falls

A recent column by Dan Wilcox, outdoor columnist, blaming grain farmers for the decline of bee colonies in Wisconsin, lacks balance and sound scientific information when it comes to the safety of pesticides used in corn production. As a corn grower from River Falls, I want readers to know this alarmist misinformation was rejected when stakeholders (including bee keepers and grain growers) this year developed the Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan.

A recent Wisconsin Ag Statistics report said bee colonies in Wisconsin were up 33 percent in the first part of the year compared to last year, and that Varroa mites were the number one stressor for operations-not pesticides.

Strategies to a healthy future for our environment and pollinators must be based on sound scientific information. A recent paper called “’Beepocalypse’ Not,” provides a perspective on how potential bans and restrictions on a class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” could do more harm than good for honeybees as less effective alternatives will likely be used as a replacement.

The author said that “The best solutions will strike a balance that recognizes the value of targeted and managed use of agrochemicals and minimizes any impact on commercially farmed honeybees and wildlife. Such policies can only be pursued when we dispense with misinformed alarmism and focus on science-based solutions and productive collaboration.”

Wilcox’s statement that “crop growers don’t care much about pollinators” is false. Even before the state pollinator plan came out, the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association published a “Corn Grower Pollinator Guide” to provide growers with best management practices to enhance or improve pollinator habitat on farms. Nationally, corn growers have been working with the Honey Bee Health Coalition to promote sound science on this issue.

Some of the buzz you hear about agriculture’s negative impact on pollinators is just more of the alarmist misinformation that those actually working on pollinator protection in Wisconsin have rejected.

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