I'd like to share with you some detail from a Bruno cartoon which appears in today's Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
The background to the cartoon is the news that the Ministry for Agriculture and Environment have cited 'official secrecy' and 'confidentiality' as valid reasons for not releasing year on year information about the nature and amount of industrial pesticides being used in Austrian agriculture.
This came in the wake of a EU Parliament vote on the intended widespread use in the European Union of three neocotinoids believed by many, including experienced apiarists, to be harmful to bees; not to mention butterflies, moths, worms and other creatures in the food chain such as hedgehogs and birds.
Fortunately in the EU Parliament common sense narrowly won the day.
It may not do so next time.
When all is said and done, money talks. And big money, that is chemical and pharmaceutical money, talks big. That's why the bees in the cartoon are carrying briefcases stuffed with lucre.
There are, as we all know, many untrustworthy and unscrupulous persons in positions of political power and influence who will put their name to almost anything in return for a quick buck or a quick euro.
The two sides involved, the lobbyists and the politicians, think of this practice as accepting and giving presents. It sounds much better than what it really is which is giving and taking bribes.
Recently an Austrian EU delegate was caught by undercover British journalists and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
But there are those in positions of power who will always follow the lobbyist with the fattest cheque book. They will take the chance and damn the rest of us.
After the EU vote it is was discovered (surprise! surprise!) that Austria already used neocotinoids and had been doing so for years.
Suddenly a proverbial white rabbit weighing 10 tonnes was pulled out of the cylinder hat.
Ten tonnes (if that figure is true) might not sound much. But independent research shows that neocotinoids in 5, 10 and 20 parts per billion can be enough to disorientate a bee's navigation system.
Ironically, on the shores of one of Austria's most beautiful lakes is situated the house of the man who discovered how bees communicate. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for this important discovery.
Bruno's cartoon shows how Austria's Agriculture and Environment Ministry, despite or because of its secrecy, functions smoothly. Almost like a beehive.
The yellow figures, (each is two consecutive years added together) are my way of showing the seriousness of the situation, the decline of the honeybees, even more clearly.
2005/6 - 6,100
2006/7 - 6,300
(i.e. 2005/7 - 12,400 tonnes)
2007/8 - 5,700
2008/9 - 5,500
(i.e. 2007/9 - 11,200 tonnes)
2009/10 - 5,000
2010/11 - 5,600
(i.e. 2009/11 - 10,600 tonnes)
So what's the BEEg secret? Is there something else we should know?