Tell Congress: STOP Using Pesticides That Kill Our Bees!

Last month, 50,000 bumble bees died after trees in Wilsonville, Oregon were sprayed with dinotefuran, the neonicotinoid ingredient in Safari pesticide. This was the largest bee die-off ever recorded.

With bee populations declining across and around the country at alarming rates, I urge you to support the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” to restrict the use of these chemicals until we can be assured that they are safe and being used properly.

Take-Action

Why is this important?

From flowers to chocolate, berries to tequila, pollinators are integral to the planet, economy, and many aspects of our lives. In fact, the USDA estimates that about one in every three bites of food is either directly or indirectly made possible because of bee pollination. Both our environment and food supply are inextricably tied to the welfare of bees, making the decrease in bee population a cause for great alarm.

Changes in climate and ecosystems are certainly at least partly responsible for the increase in colony collapses, though man may be playing a more direct role in die-offs than that. Neonicotinoids, a particular type of pesticide, have become increasingly common in the last decade and are suspected to be contributing to the decline in bee populations around the world. The die-off of 50,000 bees in Wilsonville, Oregon – roughly 300 nests – after the application of the neonicotinoid dinotefuran was a call to action.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is investigating the die-off and is temporarily restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing dinotefuran, and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the use of these chemicals. However, that review is not scheduled to be completed for another five years. Meanwhile, Europe has already moved forward with restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids

We must act now. This week I introduced, H.R. 2692, The Save America’s Pollinators Act, with my friend Congressman John Conyers to suspend certain uses of neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency reviews these chemicals and makes a new determination about their proper application and safe use. This will increase pressure on the EPA to speed their review before another mass bee-die off can occur.

Raising the public awareness of the integral role of pollinators to the world, the precarious state of their population, and what we can do to protect them is of the utmost importance. I’ll hope you’ll join me as a citizen co-sponsor of this important legislation.

Sincerely,
Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

Learn more about the Save America’s Pollinators Act:

The Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013

 Congressman Earl Blumenauer • Third District of Oregon • http://www.blumenauer.house.gov

Background

Pollinators—including honeybees, bumble bees, butterflies, and other insects—play an important role in our farms, flower gardens, and food. In fact, some of the crops most important to Oregon’s agricultural economy—blueberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, vegetable seed, squash—are reliant on bees for pollination and reproduction. More than 70% of America’s food sources are pollinated by bees and the worldwide economic value of these crops is as high as $200 billion a year.

America’s bee population is struggling. During the last five years, beekeepers have lost more than 30% of their hives annually. While many factors are believed to contribute to this die-off, significant evidence links the use of a certain class of nicotine-derived pesticides, neonicotinoids, with bee die-offs. In 2013, the European Union significantly limited the use of neonicotinoids, citing concern about their impact on honeybee populations. That ban took effect April 29th and is valid for two years.

EPA Review Process

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated a new process to reevaluate pesticides on a regular cycle. Each licensed pesticide is reviewed every fifteen years to confirm that it is being used safely and that its impacts on human health and the environment are properly assessed. Most neonicotinoids are scheduled to be reviewed in 2018.

Legislation

The Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013 directs the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend use of the most bee-toxic neonicotinoids for use in seed treatment, soil application, or foliar treatment on bee attractive plants within 180 days, and to review these neonicotinoids and make a new determination about their proper application and safe use. EPA is required to take all peer reviewed data into account when reviewing the use of these neonicotinoids, and to specifically account for any potential impact on the health and viability of pollinator populations.

Given the recent bee die-offs in Hillsboro, Oregon and Wilsonville, Oregon and disturbing preliminary research on the impact of these pesticides, it is clear that they must be evaluated to ensure that their use does not pose an immediate threat to bee populations and the long-term viability of our farms. Until those determinations are made, we cannot risk the potential of putting our farms, food, and families in danger.

The Save America’s Pollinators Act also instructs the Secretary of the Interior, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, to issue a report on the native bee populations in the United States, any decline in the population levels, and any potential causes of such decline.


Supported by: Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society, NW Center for Alternatives to Pesticides

For more information on Congressman Blumenauer’s agricultural agenda, please contact Tyler Frisbee (202) 225-4811 or Hillary Barbour (503)231-2300 or visit him on the web at http://www.blumenauer.house.gov.

Pesticide Use Spikes as GMO Failure Cripples Corn Belt

Midwest farmers douse their fields in chemicals as insects grow resistant to Bt Corn

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer


Pesticides Poured on Illinois Cornfield (Photo: Fig and Sage)

Pesticide use is skyrocketing across the Midwestern U.S. corn belt, as biotech companies like Syngenta and AMVAC Chemical watch their pesticide sales spike 50 to 100 percent over the past two years, NPR reported Tuesday.

The culprit? Bt corn—a type of genetically engineered corn with insecticide built into its genes.

Variations of this corn strain—peddled across the world by large multinationals including Monstanto and Syngenta—are giving rise to Bt resistant insects and worms, studies show.

NPR reports that resistant ‘pests’ are decimating entire cornfields across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Yet, now that the targeted insect killings are not working, big agribusiness is simply throwing pesticides at the problem instead of moving away from GMOs.

This is despite warnings last year from the Environmental Protection Agency that unrestrained use of Bt corn will off-set the balance of the ecosystem.

Monsanto denies the severity of the damage wrought by Bt corn, assuring customers that many farmers ‘have great success.’

Environmental groups have long warned that Bt corn is a danger to non-‘pest’ insects. In a 2004 briefing, Greenpeace showed that the effects of non-targeted insect killings ripple throughout the ecosystem.

Critics charge that the modified corn—which is spread by big agribusiness, pushed to small farmers, and crossbred with non GMO strains—undermines food diversity and security and devastates small-scale, sustainable farmers and peasants.

The revelation comes after scientists recently warned that pollution runoff from Midwestern farms, carried to the ocean by the Mississippi, is slated to create the largest ocean dead zone recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, choking marine life that crosses its path.


(Photo: Digital Journal)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License


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Bayer’s Toxic Clothianidin is Killing the Bees

Bees01

Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags! It’s not just the State and Defense departments that are reeling this month from leaked documents. The Environmental Protection Agency now has some explaining to do, too. In place of dodgy dealings with foreign leaders, this case involves the German agrichemical giant Bayer; a pesticide with an unpronounceable name, clothianidin; and an insect species crucial to food production (as well as a food producer itself), the honeybee.

There’s a great article on “Grist” that walks you through the significance of using genetically modified seeds to grow genetically hostile crops that are potentially at the root of colony collapse disorder.  Here’s an excerpt:

Suppliers sell seeds pre-treated with it. Like other members of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, clothianidin gets “taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar,” according to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), which leaked the document along with Beyond Pesticides. That effect makes it highly toxic to a crop’s pests — and also harmful to pollen-hoarding honeybees, which have experienced mysterious annual massive die-offs (known as “colony collapse disorder”) here in the United States at least since 2006. The colony-collapse phenomenon is complex and still not completely understood. While there appears to be no single cause for the annual die-offs, mounting evidence points to pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoids (derived from nicotine), as a key factor.”

“The document [PDF], leaked to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, reveals that EPA scientists have essentially rejected the findings of a study conducted on behalf of Bayer that the agency had used to justify the registration of clothianidin … asked l if the scientists’ opinion would inspire the agency to remove clothianidin from the market … [a spokesman] who asked not to be named but who communicated on the record on behalf of the agency, replied that clothianidin would retain its registration and be available for use in the spring.”

 

Think about that a minute and let it sink in.  What are we going to do when the bees are no more, they no longer pollinate our crops, and food supplies begin to dwindle?  Learn more and read Tom Philpott’s full article at Grist: http://grist.org/article/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/

Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that’s killing Bees!

In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin — which scientists believe is a major factor in the alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off. One third. Every year. That’s a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it’s also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world’s food supply.1

More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.

The EPA will be issuing a decision soon. If the agency doesn’t act, it won’t review Clothianidin again until 2018 — and by then it could be too late for the bees.

Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency.
Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees.

While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.

Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants’ pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees’ favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety. The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use on corn — the largest crop in the U.S. – in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the basis of an unconditional approval of the pesticide.2

Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.

For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an “imminent hazard.” With massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it’s clear that is the case.

Tell the EPA to protect honey bees and our food, not pesticide makers. It’s time to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.

1. “Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science,” Pesticide Action Network North America
2. “Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags,” Grist, 12/10/10

A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees?

Colony collapse disorder threatens food crops valued at $15 billion a year. New research says farm chemicals put our food system at risk.

by Shannan Stoll

Bee photo by Brian Wolfe

Photo by Brian Wolfe.

Newly published scientific evidence is bolstering calls for greater regulation of some of the world’s most widely used pesticides and genetically modified crops.

Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives.

Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30 percent in the winter of 2010-2011.

Bees are crucial pollinators in the ecosystem. Their loss also impacts the estimated $15 billion worth of fruit and vegetable crops that are pollinated by bees in the United States.

The studies, conducted in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, all pointed to neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals used widely in U.S. corn production, as likely contributors to colony collapse disorder. The findings challenged the EPA’s position—based on studies by Bayer CropScience, a major producer of the neonicotinoid clothianidin—that bees are only exposed to small, benign amounts of these insecticides.

The new studies found that bees are exposed to potentially lethal amounts of neonicotinoids in pollen and in dust churned up by farm equipment. They also found that exposure to neonicotinoids can reduce the number of queen bees and disorient worker bees.

An alliance of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a petition on March 21 asking the EPA to block the use of clothianidin in agricultural fields until the EPA conducts a sound scientific review of the chemicals.

Meanwhile, farm chemicals and the biotech industry have come under fire for the problem of pest resistance. Some weeds and bugs have become less susceptible or immune to the chemicals or biotechnology used to control them.

In March, national experts on corn pests published a letter to the EPA describing how rapidly rootworms are becoming resistant to the larvae-killing gene in Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Bt” corn. The letter warns that the EPA should move to regulate Bt corn—by requiring, for example, non-GM buffer zones—with “some sense of urgency.”

In a similarly alarming trend, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, which are genetically modified to tolerate the active ingredient in Roundup, are associated with the creation of “super weeds.” The widespread use of these crops has led farmers to vastly increased use of the herbicide, leading to the development of resistant weeds.

The agriculture industry has responded to Roundup’s failure by developing new crop varieties resistant to another pesticide/herbicide, 2,4-D. An ingredient of Agent Orange, 2,4-D is linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, and cancer. Last December, Dow AgroSciences LLC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve the new varieties for cultivation.

In response, the Pesticide Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch are gathering public comments for a petition to the USDA against Dow AgroSciences’ request.


Shannan Stoll wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Shannan is an intern at YES!

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