Save America's Pollinators Act Seeks to Suspend Use of Harmful Pesticides
In May, the European Union voted to ban three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam - seed treatment pesticides harmful to pollinators, including wild and honey bees. While government studies remain inconclusive and have only conducted tests for honey bees - wild bees are responsible for 90 percent of pollination, necessary for all flowering crops - the EU is erring on the side of caution by enacting a two-year ban on these pesticides, which came into use because of their reduced risk to human health.
According to recent studies pollination contributes to three-fourths of global food production and provides the "best yields." More than half of the wild bee species were lost in the 20th century in the United States.
Calling on the EPA to improve its risk management assessments relating to pesticides, the Xerces Society in the U.S. has published a comprehensive list of everyday gardening products that contain neonicotinoids and a cautionary report on whether neoniconitoids are killing bees. It has found the following:
- Several of these insecticides are highly toxic to honey bees and bumblebees.
- Neonicotinoid residues are found in pollen and nectar consumed by pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The residues can reach lethal concentrations in some situations.
- Neonicotinoids can persist in soil for months or years after a single application. Measurable amounts of residues were found in woody plants up to six years after application.
- Untreated plants may absorb chemical residues left over in the soil from the previous year.
- Products approved for homeowners to use in gardens, lawns, and on ornamental trees have manufacturer-recommended application rates up to 120 times higher than rates approved for agricultural crops.
- There is no direct link demonstrated between neonicotinoids and the honey bee syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, recent research suggests that neonicotinoids may make honey bees more susceptible to parasites and pathogens, including the intestinal parasite Nosema, which has been implicated as one causative factor in CCD.
- Many neonicotinoid pesticides that are sold to homeowners for use on lawns and gardens do not have any mention of the risks of these products to bees, and the label guidance for products used in agriculture is not always clear or consistent.
The office of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., has drafted the Save America's Pollinator's Act, which calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the use of most harmful neonicotinoids for use in seed treatment, soil application and foliage treatment within 180 days and
conduct a review on their safe use. It also calls for the office of the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the EPA, to report on the decline of native bee populations and its causes in the U.S.
Many food and environment-centric nonprofits, including Beyond Pesticides have endorsed the pledge to take action to protect essential pollinators.
Avaaz.org has created this petition to US lawmakers to support the Save Americas Pollinators Act, which has been signed by over 60,000 people.