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I am asked to write "something about bees".

I am an MD, with an undergraduate degree in zoology. I am not current on honeybees. But... I am curious about them. I read that honeybees are recovering in Europe, less so in the US, and that outlawing Monsanto crops is the cause. Is it?

I still think it is criminally stupid and short sighted to spice a bactericidal gene into our major food sources. Especially as we realize that the microbiome, the gut bacteria, is critically important for our health. The appendix may be functional after all, there to repopulate the gut with bacteria after diarrheal illness. There is less appendicitis in countries that still have diarrheal illnesses sweeping through regularly.

I contact my bee expert: PhD in zoology, a professor, and ask his opinion. And then it is taking me the whole month of January to wrap my head around it. Way bleaker than I thought, and again changes my eating habits.

He writes (quoted with permission): You raise lots of interesting things.

First are GMOs harmful? This is much debated, and the only reliable information I know is a careful review that the National Academy of Sciences has done that looked at rates of major cancers, celiac disease, kidney disease, allergies, etc., in the US and the EU both before and after GMO were so enthusiastically adopted in the US. I attach a copy for you to look over.

In general, there is little evidence in these large scale retrospective analyses for these specific diseases for GMO human health effects. However this is not a really close look experimentally and is just the best we have. They do see small microbiome changes but somehow just conclude they are too small to be an issue. They also say the increased glyphosate exposure because of GMOs is probably not a big deal and I think that is just wrong. The Feds really have underestimated glyphosate impacts for years now.

I think we really don't know enough about microbiome effects for them to say this with any assurance. This seems to me to be an area of just barely-beginning research, with really significant impacts possible but poorly understood. My guess, and this is a guess and that is all, is that microbiome impacts will turn out to be a major concern for human mental and physical health, and that we are not presently in possession of enough data to know what we are talking about in these regards.

Does BT impact bees? See Cornell Bacillus Thuringiensis article and A Meta-Analysis of Effects of Bt Crops on Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) I think we underestimate the impact of BT in combination with all other chemical insults the bees are subjected to. There is no one cause of colony collapse disorder (yes nicotinoids like dicofol are a big part of it, but not all of it). So I suspect BT is just one more thing that harms honeybees, but in fact the widespread use of dicofol is a lot worse. Honeybees are doing better anywhere dicofol is used less, but that doesn't mean BT is entirely benign.

As for your patients, is is hard to say in such a heavily contaminated world what exactly is going on. Did you see the environmental working group "body burden 1 and 2" reports?* We all have hundreds of things in us that are toxic. I think a lot of it is probably hormone disruptors, which are in can linings as BPA or the BPS substituted for it, thermal printer receipts, so many compounds in cosmetics and personal care products.... tell me if you want a much longer rant on this topic. Are they better when they cut out the "big 3" because of less stuff leaking into them via their guts or an increase in veggie and fruit consumption as carbs become less important in their diets? I don't know....

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So I don't know about you, but these articles certainly give me nightmares. Especially body burden 2, with measures of toxins in newborns. I am happy about being in a CSA, organic vegetables direct from the farmer, since about 2000. I am also glad that I don't clean the house with much of anything, particularly strong toxic cleansers. I think I am safer with the dust bunnies. My house is from 1929 or 1930, so asbestos is the main worry. Ok, I do have some plastic. I don't have new carpet off gassing or a new house or new furniture... my furniture is mostly old and/or vintage. I rarely eat canned food, nearly quit canned tuna a long time ago. I didn't use make up until age 40ish really, ick, lipstick, but certainly I am exposed to thermal printer stuff....The evidence for toxicity of BPAs was already being discussed in our classes when I got that zoology degree: 1984.

From my perspective as a physician, gut problems have been on the rise more and more through my career.

I am moving towards my daughter's diet. She is in college, honors, and on a club college sailing team. She does not have much time to cook. She says that once a week she cooks a large pot of beans, a pot of brown rice, a pot of pasta and chops lots of vegetables. She freezes portions and then eats combinations all week. Piscatarian, she says, because she likes fish. She has never liked meat. I do, but it is becoming more clear that meat is not healthy. Small amounts for flavoring, perhaps, but not large amounts...

...be careful out there.

For reQuest 2018.

*body burden 1: https://www.ewg.org/research/pollution-people#.Wm-30nmIbMW
body burden 2: https://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns#.Wm-4FnmIbMW
some actual measurements from living people: https://webmail8.userservices.net/?_task=mail&_action=get&_mbox=INBOX&_uid=101684&_token=ZpI831t5YCskTS9Xu1QlxVUaLkux2z9T&_part=3

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