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Submitted by Dr. Harold Goldmeier
MANAGING PARTNER, GOLDMEIER INVESTMENTS LLC AND INSTRUCTOR AT AMERICAN JEWISH UNIVERSITY, TEL AVIV IN BUSINESS AND SOCIAL POLICY HAROLD.GOLDMEIER@GMAIL.COM
050-2619116 OR 773-764-4357 (U.S.) Dr. Goldmeier was a Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard U. where he received his doctorate in education and government. He worked in the Illinois civil rights office, for three Governors and the U. S. Surgeon General. He recently sold his business in Chicago employing more than 70, and now writes, teaches, and is a political affairs and business consultant.
BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM:
Socially responsible investing is a hot trend. SR companies have a mission to improve standards of living, and save the planet from environmental disaster. If that’s your agenda, or if you are an entomologist at heart and looking for a business, then take a look at a nascent hive of activity where governments and the private sector are working to save the world food supply and prevent mass crop displacement. The survivability of the tiny, nuisance bee is one key to that monumental task.
Bee populations around the world dropped by some 30%-50% in the past seven years tagged Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) by researchers. CCD threatens all forms of major fruit crops, vegetation, and critical food crops. Bees also insure the sustenance of dairy and beef cows pollinating fields of alfalfa used for cattle feed keeping them lush and replenishing. No one has yet pinpointed a single cause of CCD. The general consensus is that cell phone radiation or transmission waves are not the cause.
A pathogen (infectious agent) most likely causes colony collapse. Some experts link CCD to widespread use of pesticides in agriculture and mites. At the end, the queen bee has only a few adults to service her before the colony totally collapses, and the bees die or disappear.
There is little controversy about CCD like the debate surrounding global warming with academic studies documenting the mass disappearances and deaths of adult worker bees. Start-up companies address the problem with financial investments from macro-corporations like Monsanto Co. (MON: NYSE), governments, universities, trade associations, and research of their own.
Third world and developing nations face a special threat to their economies and food sources from CCD, because their food supplies have a greater reliance on bee populations than the U. S. with an estimated 2,400,000 hives.
Concentration of the number of beehives in the world from 2002-2007
Countries 1 2
India 9.800.000 13.51
China 7.236.142 9.98
Turkey 4.568.546 6.30
Ethiopia 4.408.451 6.08
Iran 3.500.000 4.83
Total number of beehives in 5 leading countries
Number of beehives in the world
1 = average annual number of beehives from 2002-2007
2 = percentage of the number of beehives in the world
Sources: http://www.vef.unizg.hr/vetarhiv/papers/2009-79-4-9.pdf and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), August 2007.
HOW CRITICAL IS THE PROBLEM:
Every third bite of food an American takes, according to the USDA, is dependent on honeybee pollination. The little honeybee and his friends add $15 billion in value through their pollination of U. S. fruit crops. CCD has caused $75 billion in losses to agriculture worldwide. 100 crop species provide 90% of our food worldwide, and 71 of them are pollinated by bees.
In Israel, more than 2,500 tons of honey is produced each year worth $12million from 100,000 hives. However, Israel must import an estimated 1,500 tons of honey to cover demand shortfall. In “the land of milk and honey,” beekeepers face numerous obstacles and CCD. Inconsistent rainfall, where and when it falls, and rapid land development eliminate natural habitats of open fields of flowers. Responding to the challenges, The Jewish National Fund researches and plants up to 100,000 nectar producing saplings each year to enhance bee population growth.
Investigator Ahmen Jabril, reporting for Thomson Reuters, links CCD threats to national defense. Inadequate food supplies will force governments to import food experiencing shortages, high prices, and the wrath and desperation of their hungry people. The European Union Commission is likely to outlaw certain pesticides in December 2013, because of the devastation to honey production from the decimation of honey bee populations. The exact causes are arguable, but the fact that bees are disappearing is not a controversy.
A shortage of other bee products is driving up the costs of vitamins, medicines, and cosmetics. Propolis is a sticky sealant bee’s make from sap to seal their hives. Propolis has been shown it may be effective in antibiotic, antifungal, immunostimulant effects, and skin burn treatments. Beeswax supplies for candle making, polishes, food coatings, and pharmaceuticals, are also casualties.
THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS:
Treatment for CCD is a one to three billion dollar global market. The U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) is testing military technologies in CCD research. The Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and the European Union (EU), are committing resources. However, Professor
Chancing (Alex) Lu, PhD., Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology, Dept. of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, recently told me momentum has slowed since early 2012, with no new dramatic research findings, and the recent resignation at the EPA of the person dedicated to this problem. “EU might be the first political entity to take some meaningful action to mitigate the losses of honeybees by restricting the use of neonicotinoids” (a group of chemicals used as insecticides).
ONE COUNTRY’S INVESTMENT:
Many universities in advanced countries have research labs and offer degree-granting programs in their departments of entomology studying bee behavior and lifecycle issues. Work in this field at Hebrew University in Israel goes back some seven decades. In 1976, the Triwaks Bee Research Center was inaugurated focusing on bee activity and foraging behavior, secretions, and mite control causing severe damage to bee populations. In 2009, Israeli professors identified Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IVAP) as a possible leading cause of CCD. It was found in imported bees from Australia and jelly from China. This has led to large-scale field testing of solutions for IVAP, and a commercial start-up company was founded in Spetember 2011.
Agriculture behemouth Monsanto Corporation acquired Beeologics demonstrating the importance of this problem. Beeologics with offices in Rehovot, Israel and Miami, Florida produces Remebee®, an anti-viral bee treatment awaiting FDA and EPA approval for commercial use as an intervention method in the fight against IVAP.
A PUBLIC COMPANY SAVING BEES
BeesFree, Inc. (BEES), based in Florida, is “Saving hives. Saving Lives.” It is currently the most aggressive if not only publicly traded corporation singularly addressing CCD. The stock currently hovers at less than US$1 per share, with a market cap of 15.4M. The company is about 2 years old. The stock price ranges between 65 cents to a US$3.25 high on January 27, 2012. Over the last 52 weeks, as a couple of early investors sought to exit their sizeable positions at a discount to generate cash for other investments (according to a company investment relations firm advisor).
BeesFree is causing a buzz with a public relations campaign, and a global marketing strategy. BeesFree sponsored the January 2013, North American Beekeeping Conference and Tradeshow, and last year sponsored the California state beekeeper convention.
BeesVita Plus™ (patent pending) is an all-natural nutritional supplement fed to honey bees year round. It contains carbohydrates, essential amino acids, lipids, essential oils, minerals, and antioxidants. The company web site claims “BeesVita Plus™ strengthens the honey bee thereby enabling the honey bee to withstand greater environmental toxins and stress” (beekeepers sometimes move hives up to five times a year), promotes brood rearing, increasing the adult bee population, controls Varroa and Nosema infestations, and helps prevent CCD. The Beespenser™ is a patent pending automated, maintenance free feeding system designed to provide BeesVita Plus™ for up to 50 colonies. The equipment is manufactured in Italy where the company has its research laboratories (Rome).
BeesFree, solidified its scientific credibility by signing a consulting agreement with Dr. Francesca del Vecchio, the inventor of BeesVita Plus™ through October 15, 2015. She is an Oxford Ph.D. specializing in biological compounds and DNA sequencing. On October 12, 2012, BeesFree named David W. Todhunter President, CEO and CFO.
The company is selling its products globally eschewing the U. S. market, and avoiding head-to-head competition with giant Monsanto. Further, the company cannot afford the costly and time-delaying testing requirements imposed by U. S. government agencies. BeesFree believes data from lab and field use overseas will help make the case to researchers, beekeepers, investors, and government officials.
BeesFree recently entered the market in Argentina with a patent pending for its technology, and a pending opening order worth US$100,000. There are an estimated 6 million beehives in Argentina today. On May 7, 2012, the company announced its first order valued at $270,000 in the Republic of South Africa pending approvals from the government. The investment company initiating the order plans to introduce BeesFree products in other African countries where 20% of the world’s honeybee colonies exist.
CCD joins global warming and water resource sustainability as the most pressing environmental problems on the world agenda. CCD is a recently recognized phenomenon. The response to CCD is fairly limited and unorganized. Investors have an opportunity to get in early with BeesFree. Its solution is based on laboratory and field research to a pending crisis with global market potential. However, the research and company are so new that the wise investor must do further fundamental research and technical analysis.
BeesFree currently relies on “forward-looking statements,” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Future research might impact their products and sales potentials, but, as of now, there is little competition. The upside is enormous for both investors and the world’s food supply. Please remember, killing a bee is dangerous to your health.
How To Invest In A Socially Responsible Industry That Just Might Save The World Food Supply
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