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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lessons from moms and (unhealthy) bees

During my little walk earlier to fetch my newspaper—among a Mother's Day chorus of birds and bees going about their homemaking chores in a landscape of leaf, grass, and flowerI got to thinking about a new report on a type of insecticide that is killing bees. Of course, the death of bees will have some small or large impact on food supplies (which need bees for pollination). And so this issue about bees is one that we should be aware of. (For the record, the work of "mother bees" is important enough that it is noted specifically in the Church's Easter Exsultet hymn.)

The study, “Sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoidsimpaired honey bees winterization before proceeding to colony collapse disorder,” is yet another alarm sounding over the often unknown effects of manmade chemicals. The paper notes in its final discussion that the “results from this study not only replicate findings from the previous study … but also reinforce the conclusion  that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of (colony collapse disorder).”

Neonicotinoids are man-made. They mimic the insecticidal characteristics of nicotine—which occurs naturally. But as science is showing us, the use of the artificial variety in the food supply chain is causing problems that could eventually bring great harm to the systems that feed millions. Perhaps we will soon find a version of neonicotinoids that will not come with bee-hive-collapsing impacts, but at the present this is the matter before us.

Mother’s Day is a day devoted to the natural order of things—to moms, who make choices to bring new life into the world, and then spend a lifetime sacrificing for their sons and daughters so that they may someday do likewise.

What this story about neonicotinoids tells us is that mimicking nature is not wise when we don’t think enough about the impacts of our choices. "See where it leads," St. Augustine would say. It turns out that this is not just true for theology, but for sciences and technology, too.

There will be time a little later to wrestle with weighty issues. For today, let us pause on this Fourth Sunday of Easter—on this Mother’s Day—and remember those that gave birth to us and all those who in any way were like a mom to us.

And may Mary, the mother of us all, hear in our prayers our love for her, as she also prays for us—for our planet, too. Mary, protector of life, pray for us! 
O Mother most merciful, Mother of compassion,Ark of Salvation, Gate of Heaven,Refuge of sinners and those in despair,To Thee we fly, unto Thy leaven. O Mother most sweet, most radiant, O Mother of mothers!Mother most pure, Mother most dear,Thee do we entreat sending up our sighs,As Thou bendest to blot every tear.
 Prayer excerpt from 

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