|Bees and Pesticides: Finding the Way Forward|
The pressure to stop the sale of the pesticide clothianidin is heating up with a coincidental convergence of several events in the past two weeks: first, a petition filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by beekeepers and environmental groups, second, the release of three new scientific studies (detailed in a post by Tom Philpott), and third, the release of a report on the impact of neonicotiniods on bees by the Xerces Society.
Clothiandin, a neonicotiniod pesticide marketed by Bayer, is toxic to bees and other insects, and is implicated in colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees. I was surprised to discover that not all bee advocates are calling for an outright ban.
Besides exposure to pesticides, poor nutrition is also one of these contributors, due to the disappearance of habit with proper “bee forage”. Reduction in the conservation of natural areas where bees can find nutritious food, and an increase in large agricultural mono-crops are part of the problem. Commercial hives are trucked all over the country to pollinate crops, which is an added stress.
So it would make sense to limit the use of neonicotiniods, as a commonsense measure at the very least, since the situation is desperate for honey bees, and this may be one action that could help. But not all pollinator advocates are demanding a ban of these pesticides, out of fear it could make the situation worse.
The Petition to the EPA
Bee Friendly Farms
Growers will demand a replacement pesticide for their crops, and it’s not realistic to think they will use none at this point.
As described on their web site, their organization is:
“pursuing collaborative approaches between farmers, growers, beekeepers and scientists to develop ways to improve health of honey bees in pollination services and support native pollinators.”
The Xerces Society Report on Neonicotiniods
“The report recommends that regulators reassess the bee safety of all neonicotinoid pesticide products, reexamine or suspend all conditional registrations until we understand how to manage risks, and require clear labels so that consumers know that these products kill bees and other pollinators.”
Vaughan was especially adamant that products containing these pesticides that are sold for use in home gardens be labeled clearly with a warning that they are toxic to pollinators. Home gardeners have been using these products on their roses and fruit trees at much higher doses than is used in agriculture, and it’s likely they have no idea that they harm bees and butterflies.
He made the point that in agriculture and in the home garden, the use of pesticides is often preventative, without knowing if a real problem exists. This is a very harmful practice, and if pesticides where only applied when needed and in a targeted fashion, this would go far in cutting down on their use.
Vaughan sent the Xerces report to the lead toxicologist at Bayer, and to the risk manager and lead risk assessor at the EPA. He received acknowledgement from all of them, and expects a chance to discuss the report with them.
We Can Do Our Part
Source: GO MEDIA: Writen by Patricia Larenas - Photos: Urban Artichoke