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Honey bees are responsible for producing 1/3 of our food but they are being wiped out by the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides called neonicotinoids. Over the past decade, honey bee populations have been rapidly declining, with a recent government-sponsored survey indicating that on average, U.S. beekeepers lost 45.1 percent of the colonies in their operation during the winter of 2012/2013.
Pollinator losses represent a serious threat to the agricultural industry and food security. Pollination services are a vital part of global agricultural production, valued at over $125 billion annually. In fact, of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. In North America, honey bees pollinate nearly 95 kinds of fruits such as almonds, avocados, cranberries and apples. That's why it's so urgent to address the record–high decline of honey bees. Reports nationwide have consistently documented bee kills between 50 -70 percent just this year, with some beekeepers losing 100 percent of their operations.
You may have heard of "neonics" before - neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, and exposure to neonics has become a key culprit in bee population losses. EPA granted a conditional registration to the neonicotinoid clothianidin in 2003 without the required field study on pollinator impacts. This requirement has never been met, yet clothianidin remains one of the most commonly used insecticides more than decade after EPA found it had insufficient basis for registration requirements.
Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used insecticides in the world and their use has been repeatedly shown to have lethal and sub-lethal effects on bees, other pollinators and beneficial insects. For example, in June of 2013, 50,000 bumblebees were killed as a direct result of exposure to a neonic applied to Linden trees for cosmetic purposes.
EPA is currently working under a 2018 deadline for reviewing the registration of clothianidin and other neonicotinoids. Five more years of colony losses at this rate leaves little hope that the beekeeping industry will survive this delayed timeline, seriously jeopardizing our agricultural economy and food supply. Congress must take action to accelerate EPA's irresponsible timeline.
Thankfully, Representatives John Conyers (D, MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR) have taken a major step to protect pollinators. They have recently introduced the Save America's Pollinators Act, calling for the suspension of a certain class of systemic pesticides that are killing bees: neonicotinoids ("neonics" for short). Now the bill needs our support.
The Save America's Pollinators Act calls for the suspension of neonics on plants attractive to bees until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe, and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators.
This much-needed legislation also requires our government agencies to monitor the health of native bee populations, and to identify and publicly report the likely causes of unusual bee kills.
Please sign the petition to members of Congress urging support and passage of the Save America's Pollinators Act!