Bees are dying due to deforestation and the use of pesticides on soy plantations in the Amazon. Local residents, who previously made a living from meliponiculture, today suffer when they find real bee burial grounds on their properties.
A report by Mara Régia and Elizabeth Oliveira for BBC Brazil denounces the damage caused by soy production in the Amazon. This practice, in addition to causing rampant deforestation in the region, making the planet warmer and warmer, is killing animals, insects and people, due to the indiscriminate use of chemical products.
One of the places most affected by soy monoculture is Chácara João do Mel, in Belterra, in western Pará, owned by Mr. João Batista Ferreira, 59, who had meliponiculture as his main economic activity.
The report says that João do Mel had 1,000 hives, built by him in the course of his life. Each box produced about 5 to 6 kg of honey. However, agribusiness caused a change in the behavior of the bees that ended up dying, leaving the hives empty.
Currently, João do Mel has only 100 hives, whose production does not produce even a kilo of honey. Hence comes what he regrets and calls the "bee graveyard", because the few that remain no longer produce as they should and worst of all, they feed on their own honey to survive.
To make matters worse, in addition to bees unable to pollinate due to excess pesticides on plantations and deforestation of forests, ecological imbalance means they have to deal with some predators. This is the case of anteaters that break the covers of hives in search of food.
Indiscriminate use of pesticides.
These situations are undermining the hopes of local producers, especially that of Mr. João, who, in addition to not seeing another future in beekeeping, also generates a very serious alert about the consequences of unsupervised pesticide use.
According to him, the chemicals sprayed on soy plantations end up being spread by wind and rain, reaching even the tallest trees, which have flowers that would be used for pollination by bees.
The lack of inspection in the use of pesticides in soy monocultures is also causing health problems for residents of the region. According to the article, the number of cancer cases is increasing every day. Until then, this disease did not even exist there and that is one of the concerns of the population.
With the death of the bees, João do Mel had to find another activity to ensure the sustenance of the family and the son who is on the way. He established a workshop and began producing furniture and decorative pieces from scraps of wood.
Despite the change in professional direction, João do Mel did not abandon his bees. Together with his brother José Batista Ferreira, 57, who also owns property in a conservation area, they fight to prevent the pollinators from becoming extinct.
On José's property, also known as Pastor Natalino, there is still a diversity of forests and animals that help in the dispersal of seeds and make the honey from the region have a high nutritional value. Despite the drop in honey production, they believe the area can still be considered a "wildlife island", but they should be on the lookout for the flood of soy producers looking to buy these properties.
Risks to people's health.
Like them, other people interviewed fear the effects of pesticides, not only on plantations, but also on health in general. The smell of the chemical sprayed on soybean plantations invades homes and causes allergies, respiratory problems and more serious diseases such as cancer.
Pollution also reaches cities through air, water, and soil, causing residents to live in fear of contracting such diseases. However, they are unfortunately unable to do anything for now as they have no one to trust to monitor this crime. Not even with the mayor of Belterra, Joclélio Castro de Macedo, who is a doctor, but shows that he is more concerned about economic activity in the region.
By Eliane A Olivera, article in Portuguese
BCC Brasil also raised other issues related to this issue. To read the full article, click here.