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Evaggelos Vallianatos – Why Is the USDA Silencing Its Own Scientists’ Warnings About the Dangerous Effects of Pesticides?

[Editor’s note: Evidence has been mounting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been silencing its own bee scientists who have raised the alarm about the deadly impact that pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, have on bees. Last month, for example, the Washington Post reported[3] the story of Jonathan Lindgren, a USDA bee scientist, who filed a whistleblower suit alleging that he was disciplined to suppress his research. In 2014, Dr. Jeffery Pettis, another USDA bee scientist and beekeeping advocate, was demoted [4], leading several beekeeping and environmental organizations to express concern that the agency has actively suppressed bee science that would negatively impact agrochemical companies like Bayer and Syngenta. In the spring of 2014, ten USDA scientists took action, filing a petition [5] calling on the USDA to stop ordering its own researchers to “retract studies, water down findings, remove their name from authorship and endure long indefinite delays in approving publication of papers that may be controversial.”]

I am grateful to Steve Volk for investigating the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the dramatic decline of honeybees. He is right that the USDA “muzzled [6]” Jonathan Lundgren for shedding light [7] on the deadly effects of pesticides on honeybees. I am also not surprised that the USDA demoted [4] another bee scientist, Jeffery Pettis, for telling Congress that pesticides are more hazardous to honeybees than Varroa mites.

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