Image:Wikimedia Creative Commons
Let's give bees a chance
In recent years, beekeepers report they’re losing on average 30 percent of all honeybee colonies each winter—twice the loss considered economically tolerable. Just as worrisome, wild bee populations are also in decline.
We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of most of the world’s food. Imagine no almonds, fewer apples and strawberries, less alfalfa to feed dairy cows, and the list goes on.
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6,000 times more toxic than DDT
Scientists point to several causes behind the problem, including global warming, habitat loss, parasites and a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics).
When seeds are treated with neonics, the chemicals work their way into the pollen and nectar of the plants—which, of course, is bad news for bees and other pollinators. Worse, for the bees and for us, neonics are about 6,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.
Just one example: After a nearby farm planted corn seeds coated with neonics in 2013, a farmer named Dave Schuit lost 37 million of his bees. “Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” said Schuit.
Image: Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative Commons
A growing movement to ban bee-killing pesticides
Given the consequences for our farms and our food, you’d think we’d be doing all we can to protect bees and other pollinators from threats like neonics.
Instead, big agrichemical companies like Dow Chemical, Bayer and Syngenta are fighting to prevent bans. And Syngenta has asked federal regulators for permission to use even larger quantities of these pesticides—as much as 400 times more than currently allowed.
Some governments are taking action. Alarmed by the role these chemicals are playing in bee colony collapse disorder, the European Union has banned them; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to phasing them out on the public lands they manage; the Home Depot and Lowe's are phasing them out; our state has taken action to ban neonics, and Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and the city of Seattle have all agreed to take some form of action against neonics. The EPA should take action now to restore bee populations to health. But so far, the agency hasn't stepped up.
Image: Justin Leonard / Flickr User-Creative Commons
Together, we can give bees a chance
Right now, we’re letting big agrichemical companies use more of the chemicals that are known to kill bees just as we’re in the midst of an unsustainable die-off in bee populations. That has to change. Now.
Spread the word about our victory in Maryland to get state leaders across the country to limit or ban the use of bee-killing pesticides.