[VIDEO] The Cascadian Farm Bee Friendlier Campaign is a Bee-Saving Call to Action
They may not exactly know it, but bees play an important role in the world of agriculture. According to the USDA, bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 75 percent of United States food crops annually, from fruits to nuts to vegetables – the Natural Resources Defense Council puts that at an estimated $15 billion in domestically grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables every year. Bees even pollinate the clover and alfalfa that keep beef and dairy cows well fed, proving that practically every segment of the food industry is at least partially dependent on the tireless work of bee colonies.
But the bee population is in peril, due to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder – the United States honey bee population has dwindled by more than 25 percent since 1990, and in some countries in Europe the numbers are even worse. The phenomenon is still not fully understood, although evidence has pointed to possible causes like pesticide use or the altered genetic structure of GMO crops. But what is understood is that we need to bring back the bee population – and nothing welcomes bees back like wildflowers.
That’s the inspiration for Cascadian Farm’s “Bee Friendlier” campaign, conceived by the General Mills-owned organic brand and Minneapolis-based agency Solve Advertising and Branding as a call to action for farmers and consumers alike to do their part in planting more flowers to encourage a resurgence of bee populations.
As Solve CEO John Colasanti explains to the New York Times, the goal with the campaign is to not just make people aware of the issue, but also to provide a simple action that anyone can tackle to help solve the problem:
Scott Lee, director of marketing for Cascadian Farm, also spoke on the importance of the campaign’s message and the implications of the disappearing bee populations:
Will the campaign work? There’s a chance that General Mills could face some backlash over the ad for greenwashing – though the company is fond of acquiring organic and sustainable brands like Cascadian Farm and more recently Annie’s Homegrown, the overarching General Mills brand remains fairly committed to conventional techniques like using GMO grains and the kinds of pesticides that could be contributing to bee colony collapse. Last month, a vocal segment of consumers expressed frustration when General Mills shareholders ultimately rejected a proposal to make Cheerios GMO-free. In that light, consumers could perceive this campaign as a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. But according to Cascadian Farm’s Lee, it’s more about General Mills allowing its brands to maintain their own diverse identities, values and concerns:
In the end, whether consumers agree with General Mills on all their ethics or not, it’s hard to argue that our bees need some help. If the “Bee Friendlier” campaign can inspire consumers to take action even in their own small way, it could add up to a lot of good work done.
[SOURCE: New York Times]
Ireland could create template for global food sustainability
Leveraging innovation could cultivate new agricultural breakthroughs, making Ireland the most responsible and sustainable food producer on Earth, according to a renowned local luminary.
Economist and author David McWilliams has insisted that Ireland can become a pivotal carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable food producer – possibly the most influential on the planet.
He does acknowledge, however, that there are considerable obstacles on the country’s trailblazing journey to complete energy-efficient and sustainable food production.
McWilliams also claims that the widely-held belief within the EU that reducing food production thus reduces carbon emissions does not tally.
“For the European Union to get an aggregate reduction in carbon emissions,” said McWilliams at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference. “It would seem to me much more logical to favour those countries that have had an evolutionary, ecological or environmental gift, in order to actually produce more, not less, because your input-output ratio is so much lower than it is either in the parched Mediterranean or in the frozen tundra of the North.”
Reflecting on the situation in the US, McWilliams said its agriculture output had tripled between 1948 and 2015, with exponential gains in efficiency. Surprisingly, agriculture only contributes to 7.5% of total US greenhouse gases, far below the 30% attributed to cars.
“I think American culture is changing, at least when you see it from the outside,” said McWilliams said of President Biden’s approach. “He's saying, ‘There's no point being wealthy if the wealth is only in the hands of a small minority. The wealth has to trickle down to everybody else.’”
McWilliams concluded that for Irish agriculture to modernise and grow, it should use one of Ireland’s leading sectors – technology – as a frame of reference. It currently generates over $25 billion in exports.