On December 2, 2013, the European Union officially began its two-year moratorium on three of the worst neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics” for short) in order to protect bees and other pollinators. Even though the EU has taken the much needed step of curbing the use of neonics, U.S. regulatory agencies have yet to step up to the plate and take the actions needed to protect pollinators.
Thankfully, Representatives John Conyers (D, MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR) have introduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692), calling for the suspension of neonics until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators.
Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, and exposure to neonics has become a key culprit in bee population losses. In June, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in a parking lot in Oregon by these very chemicals. Soon after, the state of Oregon moved forward and suspended the use of two neonics linked to these massive bee losses.
We need to take swift action by suspending the use of these chemicals across the U.S. until proven safe to our critical pollinators. The Saving America’s Pollinators Act seeks to do precisely that.
Read H.R. 2692 here
Check out save-bees.org to take more action!
The USDA is poised to approve the first genetically modified apple.
If approved, these genetically engineered apples could end up everywhere from school lunches to grocery stores, posing risks to our health, our environment and apple farmers across the United States.
This new GMO Arctic Apple® was engineered for purely cosmetic reasons — it lacks the enzymes that cause apples to brown when cut. However, browning in apples can be prevented naturally by applying lemon juice or another source of vitamin C, making this new risky genetically engineered apple unnecessary.
Thanks to the help of thousands of people like you, McDonald’s and Gerber recently confirmed to Friends of the Earth that they have no plans to sell the GMO Arctic Apple® — wisely siding with consumers and apple growers that are rejecting this risky, unnecessary, unlabeled apple.
The GMO Arctic Apple® is a problem masquerading as a solution. Without natural browning, apples may look fresh when they are actually decaying. Scientists believe apples’ natural browning enzyme may help to fight diseases and pests, meaning that farmers may have to increase their pesticide use on these new GMO apples. Apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and even ADHD.
Like other GMOs, it won’t be labeled and won’t have undergone independent safety testing — regulators will rely on the company’s sole assessment that the apple is safe for human consumption.
Worse yet, this GMO apple was genetically engineered via a new, virtually untested experimental technique called RNA interference, which many scientists are concerned may have negative, unintended impacts on human health and the environment.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 50,000 Bumblebees Dead After Neonicotinoid Pesticide Use in Oregon (ecowatch.com)
- Legislation to restrict pesticide use proposed by Rep. Blumenauer (oregonlive.com)
- Massive Bumblebee Die-Off Prompts Temporary Pesticide Ban in Oregon (wakingtimes.com)
- Americans Unite to Sue EPA Demanding Protection of Bees (ecowatch.com)
- Oregon Bans Pesticides Following Major Bee Deaths – Update (guardianlv.com)