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Monday, 12 May 2014 06:17

Do Not Replace Honey Bees With RoboBees

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Honey bee. (Photo:<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew_ww/9531844222/in/photolist-fwiccL-4CgXDv-aoAtgi-aoAt4H-anxNid-dHt2Pm-6y4VtX-dsvgP4-fFBvXV-4CzMUA-a6jK3a-dsvgEi-6jvo19-fhP97K-9Vi4es-9Vi443-bAMi4o-gkXoQS-MVPoh-bJdPkk-eK9ebj-8eYsAJ-51HdmD-ajy93Z-eK9d63-cJXFQG-7UacKc-cJXFXU-jSW7aP-3dFbQG-NqgVG-4DgYZA-6FD55A-cE8xm3-cmVvzL-dQLkBF-dd9cuA-7LqqRi-bxUVuu-5ekpiU-bQisNn-ajAWwG-anxNnb-4TrGFh-4TnuU4-dHz26h-5wZs6j-d5QvQ-3bfY25-fnjCUv"> Andrew / Flickr</a>)Honey bee. (Photo: Andrew / Flickr)REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On May Day, we marched honey bee-pollinated food (a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, berries) into the Microrobotic Lab at Harvard University. We wore our bee-swarm costumes and the Queen Bee was regal (see video here). In this facility, scientists are sinning big time. They are accepting government money to design a replacement for the honey bee. The robot bee is called the RoboBee.

Two of the RoboBee project goals on the Microrobotics Lab website are artificial pollinaton and military surveillance. With the RoboBee research we have a blend of the visions of Monsanto's industrial agriculture and of world-wide military surveillance and control.

The project director, Dr. Robert J. Wood, is a wunderkind in drone technology, receiving grants and awards from the Navy and Air Force, as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - also known as DARPA. The notorious terror of the skies has long heralded the arrival surveillance and bombs that would have the flight capabilities of insects.

Monsanto and the Big Chem companies like Bayer, BASF and Syngenta are waiting in the wings for the robot bees to fly, not yet showing public support for the SmartBee. Perhaps their marketing people are telling them that they would look like opportunists if they seemed glad about the fake bees, since it is their neuropathic pesticides that are the main suspect in the "Colony Collapse" of the bees, with a 50 percent drop in its population since 2006. Big Chem is both a cause and beneficiary of this research.

The "neonicotinoids" are ingredients in fully one-third of all pesticides now on the market. They are cited as a key reason for the bee mortality. A mass die-off at the bloom-time in the almond groves in California last month is blamed on the pesticide "Pristine" - a product of the German giant BASF. The bees' navigation systems are shorted out, and after touching on average a thousand flowers, they can't find their hives. These chemicals are banned now by the European Union, but not in the US - where Monsanto has a revolving-door saturation of the government.

The Church of Stop Shopping has committed sacred violation of the Microrobotics Lab twice in the last two weeks, singing and exorcising this Evil. Mild-mannered scientists appeared in the hallways. Robert Wood, the "intelligence officer" on duty told us, was on sabbatical.

The scientists of the four-story high Microrobotics Lab are completely de-politicized intellectuals. You can see from the film - they had looks on their faces like we were apparitions. The final conversation in the film shows the degree to which the dangerous uses of this research are unimaginable to these folks. We tried to summarize our message in clear phrases: "We cannot live without other life," and "Making robot bees doesn't make sense in the age of extinction." We know that there are Earth activists in the Harvard divestment community who oppose this kind of DARPA/Monsanto research taking place on campus. We are reaching out to them now to enlarge the nonviolent direct actions necessary. Members of the Harvard community who are coming to realize the DARPA/Monsanto research you have hiding in plain sight on your campus, please contact us.

Later in the afternoon on May Day, accompanied by a writer from The New Yorker and a camera crew from Al Jazeera, we entered a nearby Monsanto office building. We discovered that the food court by the reception desk acted like an echo chamber, heightening the sound from our bullhorn. We exorcised the building, and shouted: "Stop killing the honey bees." The Monsanto workers gathered at the windows, taking our picture with their iPhones.

Of course, we seem wackily comic to these people of the mono-culture. We are especially comic because we are serious. They say all politics is local. With earth activists, it is also true that all politics is spiritual. To turn to nature is to leave behind the fundamentalist gods that wreak such violence across the world. With the honey bee, there is so much more magic there than we can apprehend, and not magic of the Disney sort. The hive has a kind of intelligence in it that we cannot easily fold into our idea of our own supreme position, as Americans and as homo sapiens.

Ultimately the vast gulf between us and these military scientists and facilitators of neoliberal agriculture must be solved. It won't be done by a political and spiritual analysis, however persuasive. It will be done by children. This present course, led by this 1% elite and its idea of the future - will kill our children. The Earth's crisis will force heretofore separated people to unite and face that 1%.

We look forward to the moment that these citizens act on the knowledge that their children's lives are in peril from the environmental degradation of Monsanto and the Pentagon.

We will be there singing and praying to life. The honey bee will live on! HoneyBeeLujah!

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Rev. Billy Talen preaches at the church of "Stop Shopping" online and on the streets of New York and throughout the US.  He is the author of "The End of the World."