Chad Perrin: SOB

14 October 2007

corn kills

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 03:17

Ironically, it looks like farm subsidies in the US may contribute to the decimation of US food production. In particular, corn subsidies appear to be to blame. Corn is subsidized for a number of reasons, including as a politically correct response to global warming alarmism (because it’s politically expedient to push corn-based ethanol as the solution to gasoline use in cars). The biggest reason corn subsidies are among the highest subsidy outlays in US agriculture, however, is the simple fact that once you start subsidizing an industry sufficiently it grows a strong lobby.

It might be fun to watch a corn vs. cotton lobbyist death match — not only because it’s always fun to watch such a bunch of unscrupulous bastards gouge out each others’ eyes, but because there’d be fewer of each for a while. It would unfortunately only be a temporary solution, though, because there’s so much money in the agricultural subsidy business that new lobbyists could be had in seconds, with no shortage of applicants for the job.

None of this explains how corn subsidies are going to destroy US agricultural production, however. Here are some facts that should draw it all together for you:

  1. There basically aren’t any “feral” honeybees any longer. The vast majority of honeybees live in hives maintained by apiarists (aka “beekeepers”) who raise bees professionally, not only as a hobby or to produce honey, but for the very important purpose of making sure crops get pollinated. The reason there aren’t any significant numbers of wild honeybees any longer is simply that they’ve been killed off by loss of habitat, pesticides, and similar effects of growing civilization.
  2. Corn subsidies lead to greater numbers of corn farmers and corn farms, and to far more territory being given over to growing corn. We “need” all that corn for ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, and all the rest of the uses to which it has increasingly been put just because there’s so damned much of it (thanks to the subsidies). By the way, high fructose corn syrup is probably worse for you, and more fattening, than sugar — but it’s everywhere in the US (including in most bread and in supposedly “diet” oriented cereals like Special K). Nobody can effectively prove what effects HFCS has because the organization in charge of that sort of thing (the FDA) is part of the same organization that kowtows to the corn lobby (the gub’mint).
  3. This year, the number of honeybees in apiarist hives has been dropping precipitously. When I say the number of bees dropped, I mean you should imagine the honeybee equivalent of scenes from The Quiet Earth and 28 Days Later, with empty streets in a hauntingly silent world, devoid of human life. In this case, it’s the honeybees that are eerily absent — which doesn’t seem like all that alarming a thing until you stop to consider the problem that without honeybees we start needing to figure out some way to replace a third of the food consumed by US citizens. The really scary thing about the drop in bee population, however, isn’t that they’re dying. Nobody can find their bodies. They’re just disappearing.
  4. Most corn grown worldwide is of a genetically engineered variety that produces its own pesticide, a chemical called imidacloprid. This is a neurotoxin that interferes with normal brain function in insects so that neurotransmitters build up to toxic levels leading to paralysis and death. This should in theory only affect pests that infest corn, as it requires some buildup, but in even much smaller doses it interferes with the “homing” instincts of honeybees that allow them to find their way back to the hive. I guess that might explain the “disappearing, not just dying” problem — a honeybee gets dosed with a smidgen of imidacloprid, gets lost, and wanders off in the wrong direction, never making it back to the hive. Eventually it dies of old age, if nothing else.
  5. Bee numbers were already alarmingly low, thanks to other recent hits to the population of bees. Genetically engineered corn growing in every back 40 thanks to out of control subsidies may be the biggest threat yet, however, as apiarists are reporting losses around 80% or more, with heaviest losses occurring near cornfields (which happen to be most sustainable in much the same areas as apiaries). Current managed bee populations are about half of what they were 25 years ago, but nothing of which I’m aware on the order of an 80% loss in one year has occurred before the threat of imidacloprid developed as a systemic pesticide in genetically engineered (and patented, of course) corn.

Of course, government will almost certainly decide that the only solution is to subsidize beekeepers — which will only compound the problem, and/or shunt it off into some other area that will then later “need” to be subsidized as well. Whatever solutions are developed, they certainly can’t involve turning up our noses at a lobbyist. That would be political suicide.

There’s a little bit of hope even under such dire circumstances in government. For instance, it’s possible that solitary alfalfa leaf-cutting bees might be able to fill in some of the gaps left by a diminishing hive-dependent honeybee population. Unfortunately, it’s pretty uncertain whether any bees are safe from the negative effects of imidacloprid, as bumblebees seem to be following in the footsteps of honeybees.

So, next time you fill up your environment-friendly “flex-fuel” SUV (that you got with a government subsidy), just remember that you could be contributing to the deaths of millions of honeybees, the decimation of US crop production, and as yet unspeculated ecological disaster. Doesn’t that make your environmentalist political feelgoodism all warm and fuzzy at night?


  1. I beleive that you are mistaken regarding the bee problem. A few weeks ago, I recall hearing on the radio (NPR) that the source of the bee situation was confirmed to be a disease, kind of a bee black plague. I may have heard it wrong or I may have missed a disclaimer like “beleived to be”, but you should definitely check that angle out.

    That being said, ethanol as a fuel is dumb from a free market perspective. When I bought my car, flex fuel was not on my list of things I was looking for, but since it had it for free, I figured I would check it out. After all, you would imagine E-85 to be much cheaper than 87 octane, right? WRONG. In my part of the world, itr is, at best 3 or 4 cents cheaper to use E-85 vs. regular unleaded, and I would need to go so far out of my way to fill up on it most of the time, it would actually be more expensive due to the fuel used to get to the station. Note, I live 5 minutes from downtown Columbia, SC, so it is not like I am in the sticks. Until the price of E-85 comes down to be significantly cheaper than gasoline and becomes quite available, I will not consider it a true gasoline alternative.

    Finally, you forgot the little know government subsides for flex fuel vehicles. I am sure that the government hands out subsidies to Detroit to develop these vehicles, and many local and state governments give subsidies to consumers for buying them. When I purchased my car, the state government generously refunded me $300 of the sales tax (and even paid me interest because they took so long!). That is a good chunk of change, especially when you consider how many flex fuel cars are being sold now, regardless of whether or not the consumer even wanted one. I also know that some governments allow hybrid vehicles in HOV lanes, another form of subsidy.


    Comment by Justin James — 15 October 2007 @ 05:21

  2. If it was as far back as a few weeks ago, I’m pretty confident what you heard on NPR was just another case of someone proposing a hypothesis as though it were proven fact. Researchers have been doing that since late 2006 or early 2007, and have involved everything form immunodeficiency disorders to “vampire mites”, all without any satisfactory alignment of evidence with the characteristics of the explanation. For the most part, these explanations fail to explain how the population of adult worker bees dwindles to nothing without leaving any dead around the hives in their wake, with only queens and bees that are not fully developed still present.

    Of all the explanations I’ve seen, the only one that really accounts for a simple absence of adult workers is the only one that explains their absence as simply wandering off in the wrong direction: neonicotinoids. While imidacloprid is far from the only neonicotinoidal pesticide, reports from apiarists themselves seem to match up with regard to proximity of affected hives to cornfields. The most widely reported analyses, of course, tend to avoid mention of corn as a common factor, though such mentions do tend to slip through when apiarists are interviewed.

    Just today I stumbled across some mention of an odd addition to the mix of speculations, though: “organic” beekeepers seem to be largely immune to so-called CCD. Non-organic commercial beekeepers, of course, tend to supplement winter stores in their hives with (cheap, subsidized) high fructose corn syrup, typically made (of course) with genetically modified corn. Kinda makes one wonder how much imidacloprid is in your Special K, and whether it’s really as safe as the FDA wants us to think.

    As for subsidies on flex-fuel vehicles — I didn’t forget about that at all. I direct you to a quote from the end of the original post:

    your environment-friendly “flex-fuel” SUV (that you got with a government subsidy)

    Comment by apotheon — 15 October 2007 @ 08:53

  3. SOB you need to visit with a beekeper son. you got some major errors in your “article”

    the most glaring:

    the losses claimed to be from colony collapse disorder happened one year ago, no further losses have been documented this season which is now over. The lost hives were for the most part replaced so we are back to where we were a year ago in honeybee populations

    GMO corn does not produce Imiacloprid. Imidacolprid is the active iingerdient in dozens of trade name systemic insecticides namley Guacho. There are concenrs about Imidacloprid. In the last few weeks a credible new report came out of France which shows definicelty that Imidacloprid is not the source of CCD.

    finally the spread of the varorra mite from the Asian honey bee to the European Honey bees (what is used here in the USA) in the 1990’s has been the single one most deadly event affectign honeybee populations. There is a growing body of information which suggests that CCD is an put into motion by heavy mite infestations in honeybees which become weakened and more susceptible to natural virsuses.

    your article is really a gas bag of misinformation.

    i know because i am a professional beekeeper

    Comment by bud dingler — 21 October 2007 @ 06:16

  4. the losses claimed to be from colony collapse disorder happened one year ago, no further losses have been documented this season which is now over. The lost hives were for the most part replaced so we are back to where we were a year ago in honeybee populations

    Is that personal experience? If so, I’m not sure a single data point exactly qualifies as a valid refutation (actually, I’m sure it doesn’t). If it consists of more than just your personal experience, I’d like to have some references to the sources of your information (or at least descriptions of where you got it, so if I quote you I’m not just saying “some guy said”).

    GMO corn does not produce Imiacloprid.

    You’re right. It carries it from treated seeds. My mistake.

    a credible new report came out of France which shows definicelty that Imidacloprid is not the source of CCD.


    your article is really a gas bag of misinformation.

    I have very little reason to believe anything you’ve said that actually disputes what I’ve said, other than the statement that genetically modified corn doesn’t actually produce imidacloprid. As far as I (or any of my readers) can tell, you’re some random drive-by gas bag yourself.

    i know because i am a professional beekeeper

    I’ve met professional auto mechanics who don’t know anything about the reasons behind manufacturing decisions re timing belts vs. timing chains. Your argument from authority doesn’t mean much to me, and in fact leads me to believe that your first argument in those comments of yours might be nothing more than anecdotal evidence amounting to a single data point — hardly conclusive. Please provide more information lending credibility to what you say or keep it to yourself.

    I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet.

    Comment by apotheon — 22 October 2007 @ 10:03

  5. You know what’s ironic, I was just telling my friend how at one point I knew this gubbmint addy I could write to get started as a beekeeper or mushroom grower (btw, call me sometime after 11 pm EST (my number is on my blog) or IM me letting me know the best time to call you, mainly I just want to chat but I also want to relate to you an experience I’ve recently had).

    Comment by Joseph A Nagy Jr — 24 October 2007 @ 10:30

  6. […] engineered to produce its own neurotoxins (as insecticides). Aside from the fact that this may be contributing to colony collapse disorder, it also raises some disturbing questions about how healthy this crap is for […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » reaction to stupid HFCS ads — 20 March 2009 @ 02:18

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