A friend sent me this in an e-mail.
"This particular spot in the world, Sichuan province, is interesting to me because no one says what pesticides were being used that wiped out all the insects. Is it co-incidental timing that when Bayer Crop Science was developing neonicotinoids, these farmers were using a new pesticide? Just where in the world did Bayer experiment with their deadly poisonous imdicacloprid? It had to have been somewhere on a vast scale. Was it here in China? Was this the place that, at the time, was hidden, unknown far from a large city? Why I wonder is because in the 1980's, China was not progressive like it is now. The farmers may have been given free chemicals. Perhaps it bears investigation by Chinese entomologists. Don't you think China and the world need to know the name of what poison was so vastly toxic that no bugs can live there to this day? They have tried to reintroduce bugs and birds but to no avail. "
Does this mean that BAYER products WERE USED? No, it does not...but does it deserve some investigation? ABSOLUTELY.
In China, in the world's pear capital, it is the farmers who carry out the pollination of the trees: costly and painstaking work that replaces the bees killed by pesticides.
The city of Hanyuan, dressed in the finery of the white blossoms on the pear trees, could make us believe in the eternal China with its red and black brick roofs and the grandeur of its foggy landscapes. But don't let yourself be misled. It was agricultural reform instituted by the "Great Helmsman" that made the city the pear capital of Sichuan at the beginning of the 1980s. Perched at 1600 metres altitude, Hanyuan transformed its rice paddies into orchards. At the time, pears sold for 4 to 5 times the price of rice because China had to feed its population, which had tripled in ten years, going from 400 million to 1.2 billion. Today, with 7% of the world's cultivated land, the country has to feed 22% of the world's population.
The blossoming period of the pear trees is a crucial season, the one for pollination. Pear trees are auto-incompatible, which means that the trees need a hybrid pollination to produce fruit in good quantity and of a good size. Natural pollinators like bees have disappeared from the valley, killed or chased away by the pesticides that the farmers use on their crops. So, Chinese agricultural engineers replaced the insects with people and hand-pollination has spread in the valley and throughout the province of Sichuan.
In the Cheng Su family's orchard, they have been busy for several days now. The couple, for whom half their yearly income comes from the sale of five tons of pears, are pollinating one by one the flowers on their trees at a rate of thirty or so trees per day. The husband climbs the trees while his wife takes care of the lower branches, for 5 to 6 hours a day during the hottest hours of the day. This year, the season started late, the snow and cold lasting until early March. The first blossoms opened quickly, just after the thaw. Just as quickly, the family gathered the flowers from the early blooming pear trees in the house's courtyard to obtain the pollen necessary for the pollination. Once gathered, the pollen is dried under a heating cover. The prepared pollen is in fact a mix of pollen, pistils and stamens and its colour is brown, rarely yellow.