Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by cmn32480 on Friday September 23 2016, @10:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the bee-nicer-to-nature dept.

Common Dreams reports

Agrochemical giants Syngenta and Bayer discovered in their own tests that their pesticides caused severe harm to bees, according to unpublished documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the environmental group Greenpeace.

The companies conducted the trials on products that used the controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, which have long been linked to rapid bee decline. Neonics are also the world's most commonly used pesticide.

According to their own studies, Syngenta's thiamethoxam and Bayer's clothianidin were found to cause severe harm at high levels of use, although the effect was lessened when used under 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively, the Guardian reports.

However, as Greenpeace notes, the research "assumes a very narrow definition of harm to bee health and ignores wild bees which evidence suggests are more likely to be harmed by neonicotinoids".

That means the findings may "substantially underestimate" the impact of neonics, Greenpeace said.

[...] the studies are not realistic. The bees were not exposed to the neonics that we know are in planting dust, water drunk by bees, and wildflowers wherever neonics are used as seed treatments. This secret evidence highlights the profound weakness of regulatory tests.

Our previous discussions about neonicotinoids.


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday September 28 2016, @05:43AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 28 2016, @05:43AM (#407221) Journal

    They mention it. I wouldn't say there's emphasis on it. About their research, they say

    So what?

    All but three sentences in it are about Bayer's and Syngenta's research.

    And the rest isn't really about the research either. For example, the first four sentences say there was research from the manufacturer. Then the the next four show that the research didn't actually come up with anything sinister. Then everyone agrees that heavily overuse of the product can result in bee death. Then quote a pet expert that the research is "not realistic". And so on. Lots of words patching over empty talking points.

    I think the whole article you just linked to is a classic example of propaganda with insinuation of something wrong which is never explicitly stated. If there was anything wrong with the research, Greenpeace would have said so, not just make a pointless word salad of it.

    So who is being less than forthright with this?

  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Wednesday September 28 2016, @08:33AM

    by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday September 28 2016, @08:33AM (#407277) Journal

    > So what?

    I was responding to your statement that "They repeatedly emphasized proper application." Syngenta do mention it repeatedly on their aforementioned "Research FAQs" page, yet they de-emphasise it. For example in section 8 which says "Explain each of these causes [of bee losses] in a quick summary in order of significance" it is mentioned in the fourth of six paragraphs--a paragraph that also states that inbreeding, and the fact that bees have been domesticated are factors in their demise.

    Greenpeace have offered an explanation for why they don't go into further detail:

    Due to commercial confidentiality rules, Energydesk is not allowed to release the studies in full.

    If the manufacturers wished to, they could take away that excuse by publishing the studies, or giving permission to others to publish them.

    You write:

    I think the whole article you just linked to is a classic example of propaganda with insinuation of something wrong which is never explicitly stated. If there was anything wrong with the research, Greenpeace would have said so, not just make a pointless word salad of it.

    They do quote others who criticise the research itself. Also, Greenpeace are saying that the research showed that concentrations of 40 or 50 ppb of the pesticides caused harm to bees. The higher concentration is like a shot glass in 20 swimming pools.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday September 28 2016, @02:37PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 28 2016, @02:37PM (#407408) Journal

      They do quote others who criticise the research itself. Also, Greenpeace are saying that the research showed that concentrations of 40 or 50 ppb of the pesticides caused harm to bees. The higher concentration is like a shot glass in 20 swimming pools.

      So what? Again, Greenpeace has not uncovered anything that wasn't already known and their criticism is pretty damn weak. Research by a private company is not admission of guilt, no matter how much it is spun.

      • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Wednesday September 28 2016, @08:23PM

        by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday September 28 2016, @08:23PM (#407595) Journal

        > So what?

        > Again, Greenpeace has not uncovered anything that wasn't already known and their criticism is pretty damn weak.

        When, then, did the studies by the manufacturers become known to the public?

        > Research by a private company is not admission of guilt, no matter how much it is spun.

        No one has said or implied that conducting the research amounts to "admission of guilt." That's what's called a straw man fallacy.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday September 28 2016, @11:21PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 28 2016, @11:21PM (#407668) Journal

          When, then, did the studies by the manufacturers become known to the public?

          Why is that relevant? It's not these company's business to provide free research for their competitors, or Greenpeace and the public for that matter.

          No one has said or implied that conducting the research amounts to "admission of guilt." That's what's called a straw man fallacy.

          I strongly disagree. This is exactly what the story is. This news is innocuous yet Greenpeace has spun it as big business is hiding something.

          This is Greenpeace's MO going way back. They were pulling the same tricks in the wake of the Montreal Protocol treaty at the end of the 80s on banning CFCs and the ozone layer by portraying Du Pont (whom I was working for at the time) as a major contributor to greenhouse gases emissions while ignoring Du Pont's contribution to the Montreal Protocol (such as manufacturing refrigerants that decay faster in atmosphere which also reduces the greenhouse warming effect from those gases). Rather than celebrate when something was done right, they just found a new angle to exploit.

          You should remember that Greenpeace first and foremost sells a story. Saving the environment comes second or maybe third.

          • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Thursday September 29 2016, @03:10AM

            by butthurt (6141) on Thursday September 29 2016, @03:10AM (#407727) Journal

            > Why is that relevant?

            You had written "Greenpeace has not uncovered anything that wasn't already known." That means that the existence and findings of this research were already known. I asked you when it became public knowledge, but you haven't answered. And if someone else already told the public about this, the only thing wrong in Greenpeace also doing so would be failure to give credit that is due.

            > It's not these company's business to provide free research for their competitors, or Greenpeace and the public for that matter.

            Indeed. These companies' business interests don't necessarily align with the interests of the rest of us. We had best look after our own interests.

            > This news is innocuous yet Greenpeace has spun it as big business is hiding something.

            By declining to publish, they're certainly hiding something. While that's far from "an admission of guilt" and it's their right to do so, the action invites scrutiny and scepticism.

            > [Greenpeace were] portraying Du Pont (whom I was working for at the time) as a major contributor to greenhouse gases emissions while ignoring Du Pont's contribution to the Montreal Protocol (such as manufacturing refrigerants that decay faster in atmosphere [...]

            Background: ozone depletion from stratospheric chlorine was hypothesised in 1974 (Roland and Molina) and observations of the ozone hole over Antarctica were reported in 1985, and the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987. Du Pont was a major producer of CFCs.

            I found a Greenpeace white paper from 1997 [archive.org] in which they criticise your company's actions, not for the greenhouse effect of CFCs but for their ozone-depleting effect. Greenpeace criticise Du Pont for being slow to acknowledge that chlorinated compounds could deplete ozone, and for continuing to produce CFCs until at least 1992. They also say, quoting the former head of the UN Environment Programme

            the chemical industry supported the Montreal Protocol in 1987 because it set up a worldwide schedule for phasing out CFCs, which [were] no longer protected by patents. This provided companies with an equal opportunity to market new, more profitable compounds.

            In the same paper, Greenpeace quote the chairman of Du Pont as writing in 1988 (after the Montreal Protocol had been signed):

            At the moment, scientific evidence does not point to the need for dramatic CFC emission reductions. There is no available measure of the contribution of CFCs to any observed ozone change...

            A quick search of the Web didn't turn up corroboration of that quote.

            Du Pont had this to say on the topic:

            [in 1974 or later in the 1970s] As ozone depletion joins toxicity, flammability and corrosion on the list of undesirable traits of refrigerants, DuPont introduces HFC-134a as a CFC replacement.
            [...]

            -- https://web.archive.org/web/20060514235408/http://refrigerants.dupont.com/Suva/en_US/about/history/history_1970.html [archive.org]

            [in the 1990s] Accelerating a process that normally would take 15-20 years to develop, test and commercialize, DuPont spends over $500 million and takes only four years to introduce the Suva® family of refrigerants. These low- or non ozone-depleting products, called HCFCs and HFCs, help enable an economical, non-disruptive global transition that is still underway in developing countries
            [...]
            DuPont unveils a string of new products, beginning with Suva® 134a and Suva® 123 in 1991 [...]

            -- https://web.archive.org/web/20060515203750/http://www.refrigerants.dupont.com/Suva/en_US/about/history/history_1990.html [archive.org]

            So in 1974 or later in the 1970s, Du Pont introduced HFC-134a to preserve the ozone layer. Then in 1991, Du Pont introduced Suva® 134a after only four years of development, to preserve the ozone layer. I see a similarity in those names. Wikipedia says they are both synonyms for 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane. Apart from the branding, is there a distinction between them?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%2C1%2C1%2C2-Tetrafluoroethane [wikipedia.org]

            Du Pont say they were ready to produce HFCs from the 1970s, but "commit[ed] to phase out CFC production" in 1988.

            https://web.archive.org/web/20060515203738/http://www.refrigerants.dupont.com/Suva/en_US/about/history/history_1980.html [archive.org]

            I didn't confirm the accuracy of Greenpeace's quotes, but the general notion that Du Pont was slow to act can be supported by Du Pont's own Web pages. Had Du Pont aggressively phased out its production of CFCs in the 1970s, the ozone hole would likely have reached a less severe extent. Perhaps Greenpeace would have adopted an appropriately celebratory tone.

            > You should remember that Greenpeace first and foremost sells a story. Saving the environment comes second or maybe third.

            Members of nearly all organisations tend to give priority to their organisations' well-being. That can include NGOs and manufacturers.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday September 29 2016, @12:48PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 29 2016, @12:48PM (#407864) Journal

              You had written "Greenpeace has not uncovered anything that wasn't already known." That means that the existence and findings of this research were already known. I asked you when it became public knowledge, but you haven't answered. And if someone else already told the public about this, the only thing wrong in Greenpeace also doing so would be failure to give credit that is due.

              Which, if you think about it is true. Greenpeace already knew the research existed and there weren't any surprises in the research. So I still stand by that original statement. Basically, Greenpeace was looking for trouble in this research, didn't find it, and put their usual spin on the results.

              And of course, the usual spin was in full display in the 1997 white paper you mentioned. Greenpeace's business model isn't to show companies doing well. DuPont was doing what Greenpeace wanted, but they had to find some negative spin for it. So claiming that DuPont was taking their time (even though DuPont couldn't unilaterally switch people over, they weren't the sole producers of CFCs) or implying that the leadership of DuPont wasn't sincere (though let us note that the science behind the Montreal Protocol was pretty flawed so I think anyone could be excused for not taking it as serious as Greenpeace would like).

              Members of nearly all organisations tend to give priority to their organisations' well-being. That can include NGOs and manufacturers.

              And your point is? Is it ok for Greenpeace to skirt the edge of libel for their organization's well being? Would it be ok for Syngenta to make up shit in their research to protect their organization's well being?

              • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Saturday October 01 2016, @05:02AM

                by butthurt (6141) on Saturday October 01 2016, @05:02AM (#408660) Journal

                You're not going to answer my question about whether HFC-134a and Suva 134a are identical, are you?

                > DuPont was doing what Greenpeace wanted [...]

                A 2007 United Nations report [unep.org] says otherwise:

                Greenpeace was a leading participant, advocating the earliest possible phase-out of all ozone depleting substances (ODS). But its biggest contribution to the Protocol came after its ratification, as the world waited to see which refrigerants and blowing agents would replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. It opposed the chemical industry’s proposal to substitute such second generation ozone-depleting and global warming substances as hydrofluorochlorocarbons (HCFCs) or global warming substances such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), being convinced there was a way to avoid them by using cleaner and innovative technology.

                Its pursuit of innovation led to the creation of Greenfreeze, which uses environmentally-friendly substances such as hydrocarbons as refrigerants and blowing agents. It found a partner in an East German manufacturer, Foron, which began building the first Greenfreeze prototypes in 1992, and worked behind the scenes to acquire government, scientific, and consumer endorsement for the technology. Greenfreeze was one of the first-ever NGO attempts actively to participate in technology innovation to transform an industry.

                To a large extent, this has paid off. The world now has over 200 million Greenfreeze refrigerators: 27 million more are now produced each year, one third of the world’s total production. [...]

                > DuPont couldn't unilaterally switch people over, they weren't the sole producers of CFCs

                It could have unilaterally stopped making them. It called itself "the leading global supplier of refrigerants" (on its 1970s timeline page); that would have been leadership.

                > though let us note that the science behind the Montreal Protocol was pretty flawed so I think anyone could be excused for not taking it as serious as Greenpeace would like

                In 1987 the science was flawed how, exactly? Would you say it's still flawed? Your company said this:

                Molin[a] and Rowland publish ozone depletion theory in 1974.

                The theory suggests that continued use of CFCs could eventually deplete the ozone layer. Although the link to ozone depletion is not firmly established for over a decade, the potential for ozone depletion adds another dimension to refrigerant desirability.

                -- https://web.archive.org/web/20060514235408/http://refrigerants.dupont.com/Suva/en_US/about/history/history_1970.html [archive.org]

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 01 2016, @11:19AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 01 2016, @11:19AM (#408720) Journal

                  You're not going to answer my question about whether HFC-134a and Suva 134a are identical, are you?

                  I'm not even going to care since I don't think that is remotely relevant to our discussion. Rebranding happens all the time in the real world with or without change in composition of product. Your entire post is typical of the Greenpeace propaganda that always puts business in a bad light even when they do what Greenpeace wants. I'll just note one more thing:

                  It could have unilaterally stopped making them. It called itself "the leading global supplier of refrigerants" (on its 1970s timeline page); that would have been leadership.

                  And as a result, DuPont would lose that leadership since customers would continue to go with considerably cheaper options. The Montreal Protocol was necessary to prevent those cheaper options from being on the market.

                  We also see here a huge reason to hide stuff from Greenpeace and as a result, the public. With viciously adversarial groups like Greenpeace out there, any information becomes a weapon, Cardinal Richelieu-style theater. Better from the business's point of view to force them to waste resources and time rather than just give it on a platter.

                  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Saturday October 01 2016, @02:48PM

                    by butthurt (6141) on Saturday October 01 2016, @02:48PM (#408785) Journal

                    > I'm not even going to care since I don't think that is remotely relevant to our discussion.

                    We were discussing deception and you brought up Du Pont's refrigerants. Those are "two" important ones. Du Pont's publicity said that it introduced HFC-134a in the 1970s, as a less ozone-damaging alternative to CFCs. Du Pont's publicity said that it introduced Suva 134a in 1991, after only four years of development, as a less ozone-damaging alternative to CFCs. Yet the MSDS says they're the same. Hence Du Pont's publicity is very deceptive, or an outright lie.

                    http://www.fwpipe.com/msds/REFRIGERANT%20-%20DUPONT%20SUVA%20134A%20MSDS.pdf [fwpipe.com]

                    > Your entire post is typical of the Greenpeace propaganda that always puts business in a bad light even when they do what Greenpeace wants.

                    The bulk of my previous post was a quote from the UN about how Du Pont did not do what Greenpeace wanted. You chose to ignore that rather than refute it. Greenpeace continue to express their opposition to HCFCs and HFCs, although as you wrote earlier, they mention the greenhouse effect as a reason:

                    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/solutions/greenfreeze/ [greenpeace.org]

                    > And as a result, DuPont would lose that leadership since customers would continue to go with considerably cheaper options. The Montreal Protocol was necessary to prevent those cheaper options from being on the market.

                    Other manufacturers would have been at a disadvantage, because Du Pont had the Freon trademark and, until 1979, a patent on making CFCs with a chromium (III) oxide catalyst (https://www.google.com/patents/US3258500 [google.com]). An announcement from Du Pont that it was ceasing production could have stimulated discussion—and further action—while creating good publicity. You seem to value good publicity.

                    Du Pont could have developed the hydrocarbon refrigerants, such as propane, that Greenpeace have been promoting and helped to develop. Because they can be purified from petroleum and natural gas, and needn't be synthesised, I imagine that they can be made even more cheaply than CFCs. Customers would have welcomed those cheaper options, had they been on the market.

                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 01 2016, @06:39PM

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 01 2016, @06:39PM (#408856) Journal

                      We were discussing deception and you brought up Du Pont's refrigerants. Those are "two" important ones. Du Pont's publicity said that it introduced HFC-134a in the 1970s, as a less ozone-damaging alternative to CFCs. Du Pont's publicity said that it introduced Suva 134a in 1991, after only four years of development, as a less ozone-damaging alternative to CFCs. Yet the MSDS says they're the same. Hence Du Pont's publicity is very deceptive, or an outright lie. Ok, even if they are exactly the same chemically, what are they lying about?

                      Let's note several things which can be different other than chemical composition of the refrigerant: delivery system, managing a group of refrigerants of which Suva 134a is only one part, inert additives (or ruling out inert additives, if they didn't add anything), and of course, the branding.

                      Other manufacturers would have been at a disadvantage, because Du Pont had the Freon trademark and, until 1979, a patent on making CFCs with a chromium (III) oxide catalyst (https://www.google.com/patents/US3258500). An announcement from Du Pont that it was ceasing production could have stimulated discussion—and further action—while creating good publicity. You seem to value good publicity.

                      Needless to say, I don't buy what you're selling. It's very easy to second-guess other peoples' decisions when it doesn't matter how wrong you are.

                      The bulk of my previous post was a quote from the UN about how Du Pont did not do what Greenpeace wanted.

                      I already refuted that.

                      Du Pont could have developed the hydrocarbon refrigerants, such as propane, that Greenpeace have been promoting and helped to develop. Because they can be purified from petroleum and natural gas, and needn't be synthesised, I imagine that they can be made even more cheaply than CFCs. Customers would have welcomed those cheaper options, had they been on the market.

                      What makes you think they didn't? The obvious problem here is that propane and of course, Greenpeace's Greenfreeze (isobutane) are flammable. I think a key part of Greenfreeze's success was simply that refrigerators no longer leaked refrigerant like they used to (again due in large part to the Montreal Protocol and subsequent regulation which also worked on reducing leakage of refrigerants). This is yet another thing that DuPont doesn't have control over.