Between packing and moving our stuff, we've noticed that a Reuters article, published as Plan bee: Minnesota sets broad limits on chemicals blamed for bee decline in the Guardian, is getting a lot of play on social media.
Heck, we've re-tweeted it ourselves.
But a much more accurate picture of our state's concern emerges in Dan Gunderson and Elizabeth Dunbar's coverage at Minnesota Public Radio, reprinted here at the Duluth News Tribune as Seeking to reverse pollinator decline, Dayton orders limits on pesticide use.
Same old frame, same old sources
Look carefully at the sourcing in the Reuters story. It's one lobbyist and activist (Lex Horan of the Pesticide Action Network) versus Ag Industry talking heads. Nothing against the PAN folk, the Soybean Growers organization, or the Farm Bureau, but this sort of frame is journalistic laziness personified:
“Minnesota just became the national leader in protecting pollinators,” said Lex Horan, an organizer for Pesticide Action Network, a US activist group. . . .
Farmers said they hoped other US states would not follow Minnesota’s lead.
Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the governor was “restricting the ability of farmers to use all the tools the EPA has said they can use”.
“I don’t think that we’re aware of any other state that’s going to start taking away tools from farmers,” Schlegel said.
MPR: the reality behind Plan Bee
Contrast that with the Gunderson and Dunbar piece which adds an important voice to the mix, that of Minnesota's best known pollinator scientist:
The state recommendations come the same day another study from University of Minnesota researchers was published showing the effects neonicotinoid insecticides have on bees.
Marla Spivak, who co-authored the study, calls the state proposal to use insecticides only when needed a common-sense approach.
"That in itself is a huge statement that nobody else in the nation is making," said Spivak. "So it's a big correction, it's drawing a line in the sand and saying no, we're going to use our pesticides in Minnesota responsibly."
The state will set up a 15-member committee to oversee pollinator protection policy and advise the governor.
Who is Marla Spivak? In 2015, the Minnesota Agrigrowth Council, the Capo di tutt'i capi of Minnesota's Ag Mafia, wrote of her upon bestowing their yearly Distinguished Service Award:
Entomologist Marla Spivak is passionate about developing practical applications to protect honey bee populations. Spivak’s fundamental contributions have enhanced our understanding of bee biology and been instrumental for finding ways to protect the bees’ decimation by disease. Affiliated with the University of Minnesota since 1993, Marla is a Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology. Spivak’s work toward breeding lines of honey bees that detect and quickly remove diseased larvae has put her on the map. In 2010 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship Grant, “the genius grant,” for her work. Other primary contributions by Spivak include her study of the effects of surrounding landscapes on health and nutrition of native bees.
Here's the video about her that the Agrigrowth Council posted on its Youtube channel:
Bluestem appreciates the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for relying on sound science--common sense science--in selecting a respected scientist to prepare its study.
Here is a copy of Dr. Spivak's remarks at Friday's press event at the fair, via state Rep. Rick Hansen's Facebook page:
For more information about the MDA study and the Governor's order, see our earlier post, Governor Mark Dayton issues executive order to reverse bee decline, restore MN pollinator health.
Photos from the MN State Fair: The press conference at the MN State Fair (top); a photo of Dr. Spivak's prepared remarks (below).
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