Precaution or Risk/Cost/Benefit Analysis????
Situation: A five dollar bill blows out of your hand and lands between the rails on the metro track. A train is coming in 5 minutes.
A. Jump down and grab the bill because you’ve got plenty of time before the train arrives and really need some coffee to fight the cold
B. Give up on the five dollars because a cup of coffee is not worth the risk of getting run over?
Don’t know about you, but I would definitely skip the coffee and write off the five dollars. However, that’s not how the US approaches questions of pesticide safety.
European countries have issued a temporary ban on neonicotinoids, a widely used pesticide, because there’s a risk they are partly responsible for bee deaths.
MD legislature is debating a bill about whether to only allow licensed pesticide applicators use neonicotinoids.
Here’s text from a legislative update that arrived in my inbox asking for traditional landscapers to weigh in on the debate:
‘After consult with U of MD Extension and one of our grower members, it looks like the bill takes using neonicotinoid out of the hands of consumers, but continues to enable MDA licensed pesticide applicators to use these products. This bill may invoke emotional response/public perception that neonicotinoids are harmful (blamed for bee colony demises), however there may not be strong science to support this thought. What are your thoughts on this bill? Oppose based on bad science; or support with hope that if consumers can’t buy it, they’ll hire industry???’
I don’t know that the neonicotinoids are partly responsible for bee deaths, but I do know that I’d rather not risk the problems that will arise if they are.
Here’s a fact sheet about them from the University of Wisconsin Extension: http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/clue/Documents/Ag/Honeybeefactsheet.pdf
and here’s the counter-argument from a recent Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/04/30/the-politics-of-bees-turns-science-on-its-head-europe-bans-neonics-while-local-beekeepers-scientists-say-action-is-precipitous/
Truth is, we just don’t know what these pesticides do.
Why not pause and evaluate what is happening when we use neonicotinoids before we risk creating a bigger problem since we don’t yet know what harm this type of pesticide might do? Is precaution such a bad thing?