Activists accuse Bayer of killing bees, protest in Berkeley

Protesters concerned about the alleged impact of Bayer pesticides demonstrated outside the Berkeley campus on May 16. Photo: Tracey Taylor

A group of about fifty protesters from Taking Back Our Food System, an East Bay coalition of food, Occupy, and environmental and human rights activists, staged a demonstration outside Bayer’s plant on Parker Street in west Berkeley Wednesday afternoon to protest what it said was the pharmaceutical company’s role in creating pesticides that killed bees.

The demonstrators claim that Bayer is a major producer of Neonicotinoid pesticides (Neonics) and that research show this line of pesticides has a direct role in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). “Because bees pollinate a most of the world’s food, Bayer’s Neonic pesticides are a threat to our food supply,” they said in a statement read at the demonstration.

The protesters' goal was to present a satirical "poison heart award" to the pharmaceutical company. Photo: Tracey Taylor

According to three recent studies, Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticides, that coat upwards of 90% of US corn seeds and seeds of increasing portions of other major crops like soy, have emerged as a likely trigger for colony collapse disorder.

The 43-acre Bayer campus in Berkeley, which employs more than 1,500 people, is focused on biotechnology, in particular the manufacturing of a leading therapeutic treatment for hemophilia A, and does not make pesticides.

Calls to Bayer for comment had not been returned at the time of writing.

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  • Completely_Serious

    Thank you, Berkeleyside and protestors, for giving me the first belly laugh of the day.  Where is John Belushi when we need him?

  • Guest

  • Bruce Love

    From the Mother Jones article:

    But even that’s not all. As I showed in this January post, Bayer’s neonics are also common in home-garden and landscaping products.

    Aha!.   Early on when Colony Collapse Disorder was first a thing in the news — and only a few researchers were yet taking it seriously — I had a bunch of dead bees.    We had them dropping dead on our doorstep in large numbers.   Never saw anything like it before and it exactly matched what had been observed in CCD.

    One of the labs was interested so I had some in my freezer for a while but those plans fell through before they were shipped off.  (They were receiving a lot of dead bees at the time.) In retrospect that’s a bummer because Bayer’s “Rose and Flower Care” would have been first on the list products we could have identified as being used heavily, locally.

    I lived by a garden where the roses got lots of this stuff.   Nearby were both wild and domesticated colonies.  

    It’s pretty normal to see a stray dead or dying bee every now and then but this was different.   Here, they were large in number.   Every day more bees falling dead, literally on our doorstep.   They’d lose flight.  Stagger and twitch around for a few hours, and die.

    The linked article also points out that lady bugs are killed by this stuff.  In retrospect, that may have had something to do with the explosion of aphid infestations around the same time.

  • Andrew

    What I’ve heard is that it is a nicotine-based pesticide that’s the problem. 

  • Sandy_Green
  • Sandy_Green

    The words they/discus are/is asking one to input to prove one’s existence are almost impossible to decipher.

  • Biker 94703

    You’re correct, it is the same stuff; the neo-NICOTIN-oids are related to to nicotine.  You can read the recent studies in the March 29 _Science_ or a summary in the May 5 _Science News_.

    “These pesticides course through the whole plant, killing aphids and a range of other nibbling and sipping pests, but also work their way into the nectar and pollen that bees collect.”  Eg: poisoning solitary bees, honeybees, leaf-cutter bees, and hummingbirds. 

    Poisoned hives ended seasons with 8-12% smaller populations, and many (~80%) fewer queens.  A different study found pesticide poisoning roughly doubled the likelihood a foraging bee would not make it back to the hive on a given day.

    “Ecotoxicologist David Fischer of Bayer CropScience, which markets imidacloprid products, questions the realism of the pesticide dosage.  Researchers essentially fed bees all at one time the amount of pesticide they might encounter over a whole day, says Fischer, who is based in Research Triangle Park, NC.”

    Systemic poisons should be banned.  Crush your aphids by hand like God meant for you to do.

  • Pwll

     I cannot fathom why you think this is funny?

  • batard

    He’s dead, of unnatural causes —  much like the bees (which is the topic at hand, in fact)

    So what was it you were laughing about?  I missed that part.

  • Guest

    What discus required me to type to prove my existence was: typo ergo sum

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    That chick with the heart in the bag is cute.

  • Anon

    A little on the heavy side.

  • Pwll

     How rude.  She looks like a delightful young woman to me!

  • Guest

     jolly, even.

  • Guest


  • Hillary

    Hi Trolls. My name is Hillary and I’m the fat girl in the picture that you are making fun of. Thanks for staring at pictures of me ;)

    Just wanted to let you know you once again prove that anonymous comments sections are the lowest trowels of humanity and cowardice. It doesn’t matter that you are wasting your life commenting on people instead of issues. Whether or not you try and shame people for whatever characteristic you try and tease out, we are going to continue fighting for the planet and against corporate greed.

    You haters don’t phase me, probably time to move on.

  • Bruce Love


  • Anon

    Your Disqus comment history shows that you used the names Guest, Response, VanguardE, Adrian, and Rick.

    So who is the anonymous troll here, Rick?

  • House Agriculture Committee would like your thoughts on the future of farm policy Deadline: 20 May

  • Curlyfry17

    A Bayer representative recently arrived at my family’s beekeeping business and offered money and advised we take it as our business would soon be dead. 

  • Trollbuster9000

    Troll detected.