Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer and Representative John Conyers announced the reintroduction of the Saving America's Pollinators Act. The legislation requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to take swift action to prevent mass bee die-offs and protect the health of honey bees and other critical pollinators by suspending the use of certain bee-toxic insecticides, known as neonicotinoids. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Administrator of the EPA, to monitor the health of native bee populations and to identify and publicly report the likely causes of bee kills.
Recent research provides convincing evidence of a link between neonicotinoids and poor bee health. Bee populations have declined steadily since 2006, and the continued decline will have serious implications to our food supply.
“Honey bees and native bees jointly provide U.S. agriculture an estimated $18 to $27 billion in pollination service annually, and one out of every three bites of food people eat is from a crop pollinated by bees,” said Representative Blumenauer. “It is imperative that we take a step back to make sure we understand all the factors involved in bee population decline and move swiftly to protect our pollinators.”
The crops pollinated by bees include apples, avocados, cranberries, cherries, broccoli, peaches, carrots, grapes, soybeans, sugar beets and onions. However, these crops and numerous others are threatened by the dramatic decline of pollinator populations throughout the country. Over the past decade, documented incidents of honey bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and other forms of excess bee mortality have been at a record high with some beekeepers repeatedly losing 100 percent of their operations.
“The EPA plans to wait until 2018 before reviewing the registration of neonicotinoids,” said Representative Conyers. “But America’s bees cannot wait three more years. Neither can the thousands of farmers that rely on pollinators. Our honeybees are critical to ecological sustainability and to our economy. I am urging all of my colleagues to please protect our pollinators and support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.”
With the introduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, Congress will follow the example of local communities like Eugene, OR, Spokane, WA and Seattle, WA that have already adopted measures to ban the use of neonicotinoids on municipal lands. The federal government has also taken action to discontinue the use of neonicotinoids on national wildlife refuge system lands. This is a small step in the right direction, but greater action needs to be taken to protect bee populations at the federal level.
“The Saving America’s Pollinators Act remains the gold standard when it comes to legislation designed to protect bees and other pollinators from exposure to toxic insecticides,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety. “We rely on bees and other pollinators for so much of our food and it’s in everyone’s best interest to do all we can to protect them. EPA has remained tone deaf to the influx of damning scientific evidence identifying neonicotinoids as a primary culprit in poor pollinator health and it is high time that the U.S. take action, just as other countries have, to suspend their use.
“It is time for the Environmental Protection Agency to take a stronger stance on pollinator protection.” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society. “We hope that the reintroduction of this bill further encourages EPA to work with its partners to better manage the possible risks to bees posed by pesticides, including neonics.”