Viewpoint: There’s no industry conspiracy to corrupt research on bees and neonicotinoid insecticides

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Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticide
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There’s a stereotype that industry-funded research is inherently compromised. Perhaps this is true for some specific cases, but for honey bee and pollinator research, it is not the norm for researchers, data, or communications to be manipulated by industry relationships, and it is certainly not a widespread conspiracy.

The Intercept …. published a long-form investigative article on January 18, 2020, titled “The Playbook for Poisoning the Earth,” by Lee Fang. The article takes a blistering look at Bayer’s launch of what Fang calls a “stunningly successful campaign” to keep neonicotinoid pesticides registered and in wide circulation despite a growing number of scientific publications showing that they are not the harmless compounds that Bayer claims.

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Fang portrays all bee scientists as puppets, lured by the promise of financial aid.

Readers are right to be skeptical, but Bayer’s money is everywhere and skepticism easily turns into paranoia. If we distrust everything their money has touched, we will strike through a mountain of good science, too. That skepticism needs to be balanced with a willingness to dig a little deeper to see what’s really going on in each specific situation.

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