August 2013 Filmmaker of the Month Q&A With George Langworthy
Across the world, honeybees have unexpectedly vanished from their hives. The disappearance of these bees – who are responsible for pollinating about a third of our diet – has thrown the industry into a crisis, and led a team of filmmakers to explore what’s happening and what this means for the future of our food. George Langworthy served as co-director, producer and director of photography for Vanishing of the Bees, which will be screened for Green Lifestyle Network’s August EcoSalon series. Get ready to ask him a few questions of your own on August 25 at The Microsft Store for the screening.
GLN: The disappearance of honeybees is hugely detrimental phenomenon but largely unnoticed by most of the population. Why do you think it took a documentary to give it the necessary attention?
Langworthy: The disappearance of honeybees got a lot of press, but our full length documentary explains the entire scope of this complex problem. There are a lot of factors contributing to what is happening with bees – and a magazine article or short clip on the news can’t cover them all. One thing we have learned is that honeybees are truly loved by huge numbers of people – and that is really what is driving the attention this crisis has received.
GLN: What can the average person do to help reverse this situation?
GLN: It’s considered a worldwide phenomenon. Where else is experiencing the worst of it?
Langworthy: Since the United States has the most extensive industrialized monoculture farms, we are getting hit the very hardest. But it is truly happening in any country with a heavy use of pesticides in their agriculture system.
GLN: What do you believe is the primary cause of the disappearing bees?
Langworthy: The primary cause of the honeybee deaths is the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides used in modern agriculture. The confusing element for many people is that these poisons can cause sub lethal damage to the bees but not kill them upon exposure. The pesticides weaken their immune system and make them prey to viruses and parasites and other problems that then lead to their death. These toxic chemicals impair their navigation, destroy short term memory and ultimately this leads to the death of the entire colony.
GLN: What has been the reaction to your documentary so far?
Langworthy: We have gotten a wonderful response to the documentary and have inspired people to start organic gardens, beekeeping groups and go out into the world and make a difference. We now have the film translated into 12 languages.
GLN: What will happen if this disappearing trend continues unchecked?
Langworthy: This is a crisis for much more than honeybees. All the other pollinators are dying as well but they are not getting as much notice and this goes right on up the food chain. So it could lead to a collapse of our food supply and massive damage to the ecosystem. The workings of the natural world have a delicate balance that we are upsetting. And the results of the breakdown of ecosystems could destroy the very things we rely upon to continue living here on earth.