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Dishonesty from the pesticide industry

Posted on 10th July 2014

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This BBC story is worrying enough anyway, but highlights some downright dishonesty by Bayer, the maker of Imidacloprid (a Neonicotinoid pesticide).

A Bayer spokesman said "Neonicotinoids have gone through an extensive risk assessment which has shown that they are safe to the environment ...".

No, Mr. spokesman, that is not what science does; science cannot do that. Science can show that some things are not safe. In the absence of proof that things are not safe, it is assumed that they are safe, but being safe is not proven. Recent history is littered with examples of things that were assumed to be safe, but were later shown to be unsafe (DDT and Agent Orange are a couple of notorious examples). Many medicines that were tested (in extensive clinical trials) and used to treat patients, were later withdrawn because they were shown to be dangerous (due to side-effects) or simply ineffective.

The pharmaceutical and pesticide industries are science based, and I find it hard to believe that companies. like Bayer, in these industries do not understand what science can and cannot do: the difference between not proving something is unsafe, and proving that it is safe. So, how about a bit more honesty from such companies? Otherwise the public will start to think you are as bad as Big Tobacco.