Awhile back I was contacted by Paul Bedard, a reporter for US News and World Report magazine. He was asking about Colony Collapse Disorder because he was doing a story on it for his magazine. Paul writes the Washington Whispers column for the hard copy edition, and does a blog on their web page, too.
It turns out hes got a beekeeper in the family and had more than a passing interest in the story. Weve stayed in touch due to our common interests and he has been a great resource because he lives in DC and knows all the players there. Sometimes Im ahead of the curve on a particular story and can give him a lead on something so it works both ways.
Yesterday he had an interview with Ed Schafer, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture regarding the farm bill, which is getting somewhat messy, or not, depending on who you talk to. Lots of money is still on the table and where it ultimately will go is getting interesting. But one of the questions Paul asked was about funding for Colony Collapse Disorder. If you read his latest youll see what the head guy thinks, and that is, the scientists have it under control. Or rather, "We already have it in the labs. We have this great bee guy who's tinkering away in the lab to see what's going on," Schafer said.
A great bee guy? Tinkering? Already have it in the labs?
As for more money, he said that his department doesn't need it. "You can always try to overwhelm things with money and hopefully get a better answer. Very, very seldom do you get a better answer; you're just wasting money." What answer do we have now is the question I would have asked ... and if we dont have one already, how can we get a better one?
So I went to the great bee guy to find out what it is that he has, but hes out in the field trying to find the answers. And the reason he hasnt found the answers yet is that he doesnt have the money. He doesnt have it. The other labs dont have it. The Universities dont have it. The other researchers dont have it. The other pollinator groups dont have it. Nobody has any more "it" than they had last year. And they didnt find the answer last year, either. (though they did have some money last year that came from private individuals, from the beekeeping industry, from growers groups and from companies that need beekeeping).
There are studies going on right now of course. The great bee guy out in the field is working on one of them. He doesnt have an answer yet though. And wont for a year or more, if then. So it goes.
But the Secretary said two studies had been done. One that said colony collapse disorder is still bad, and one that said the worst has been seen and now its getting better ... and they are trying to find out why there was a difference between the two. Its a big issue, he says.
So if the Secretary Of Ag isnt interested in obtaining the $20 million Congress wants ... or whatever amount they finally decide on once it gets out of conference ... who do you suppose is going to go to bat for the bees?
Oh, I forgot. That great bee guy. I know him. Were lucky hes there. Were lucky someone like him is there, 'cause it sure doesnt look like the boss cares.
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