(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2012) The environmental news magazine Earth Focus has launched a new video through Link TV that examines the threat of colony collapse disorder (CCD), and the roll that our regulatory systems and industry plays in the loss of honey bees. The video, Killing Bees: Are Government and Industry Responsible?, features interviews by Beyond Pesticides’ Executive Director Jay Feldman, beekeepers Tom Theobald and David Hackenberg, as well as other experts.
Honey bees, the essential pollinators of many of our major crops have been dying of in massive numbers since 2006. This threatens the US agricultural system and the one in twelve American jobs that depends on it. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides -nerve toxicants called neonicotinoids- used on most U.S. crops, including almost all corn, may be toxic to bees. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowed neonicotinoids on the market without adequate tests to determine their toxicity to bees. Environmentalists want neonicotinoids banned until needed safety tests are done. While the U.S. government is slow to act and neonicotinoid sales reap billions for the chemical industry, bees continue to die.
The disappearance of the bees alerts us to a fundamental and systemic flaw in our approach to the use of toxic chemicals —and highlights the question as to whether our risk assessment approach to regulation will slowly but surely cause our demise without a meaningful change of course. While admittedly uncertain and filled with deficiencies, risk assessments establish unsupported thresholds of acceptable chemical contamination of the ecosystem, despite the availability of non-toxic alternative practices and products. Why do we allow chemical-intensive practices in agriculture when organic practices that eliminate the vast majority of hazardous substances are commercially viable? Risk assessments, supported by environmental and public health statutes, in effect prop-up unnecessary poisoning.
Tell EPA to protect honey bees, other pollinators, and our food supply and suspend the uses of clothianidin now! EPA has opened a 60-day public comment period on the agency’s decision to deny the request by beekeepers to immediately suspend the use of clothianidin, a pesticide that poses harm to pollinators. Comments must be received on or before September 25, 2012. See yesterday’s Daily News entry for more background information.
Want to know what else you can do? See Beyond Pesticides’ Protecting honey bees and wild pollinators page for hands-on steps you can take to help honey bees and other wild pollinators.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.