Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is doing more than killing off bees; it's impacting many parts of the food system. Take almonds for example. Like eating a handful as an afternoon snack? Then get ready to pay up, because the current collapse in bee populations is having a significant impact on the almond industry.
CCD is the result of a combination of causes, but major suspects are herbicides and pesticides, and in particular, neonicotinoids, a family of pesticides frequently used on crops of GMO corn and that happen to be chemically similar to nicotine. The European Union recently moved to ban them, but they are still legal in the U.S. and Canada, despite the fact that 37 million bee deaths were linked to the planting of GMO corn in Canada that are sprayed with the pesticide.
The declining bee populations are having a negative impact around the country, but particularly in the agriculturally rich state of California, prompting a lot of calls for legislation on behalf of bees.
When it comes to almonds, 80 percent of the world's crops are grown in California, and they're the state's biggest agricultural export. Yup, California might be known for wine, but almond crops beat out Californian vineyards in terms of amount of product exported. According to Modern Farmer, 800,000 acres of farmland in California are devoted to almond crops, accounting for $4 to $5 billion annually.
And you know what the almonds need to survive? Bees.
From Modern Farmer:
From the Organic Authority Files
About 1.5 million hives are needed to pollinate California’s almond orchards, meaning that the industry is paying at least $150 million more per year than it was a decade ago, and yet supply is still way down — by about 800,000 tons just this year.
Higher costs, less supply and increased demand - China, India and the Middle East are all eating more almonds - does not bode well for the almond consumer.
Better start saving for your next round of almond milk and doing everything in your power to bring the bees back.
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