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Daily News Blog

21
Jun

Pollinators Still Need Help; Act for Pollinator Week

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2022) June 20-24 is Pollinator Week, during which we recognize—and take action to protect—this important ecosystem link. Pollinators––bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other organisms––make a critical contribution to plant health, crop productivity, and the preservation of natural resources, but their existence is threatened by their pesticide-contaminated habitat. Pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key contributor to dramatic pollinator declines. Of the 100 crop varieties that provide 90% of the world’s food, 71 are pollinated by bees. Honey bees alone pollinate 95 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables, such as apples, avocados, almonds, and cranberries.

Take action to protect pollinators.

Providing protection for pollinators also protects the ecosystem in which they live. That protection requires eliminating harm as well as providing safe habitats where they can live and reproduce. 

Provide organic habitat on your own property and encourage your town to go organic. Since plant starts in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them, Beyond Pesticides has compiled a comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. In partnership with major retailers like Natural Grocers and Stonyfield Organic, the Beyond Pesticides’ Parks for a Sustainable Future program provides in-depth training and demonstration sites to assist community land managers in transitioning public green spaces to organic landscape management, while aiming to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to eventually transition all public areas in a locality to these sustainable and safe practices. Through this program, Beyond Pesticides is now assisting local leaders and municipal landscapers to convert parks and recreational areas across the country to exclusively organic practices, which eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. By introducing this critical piece of legislation, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) continues the fight against to protect pollinators in the face of the vested economic interests of chemical companies, chemical service industry, and an unresponsive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And as a result of pollinator heroes like yourself, they’ve already enlisted 73 cosponsors to join the effort. The bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, so Senate sponsors are needed.

Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R.4079) will not only cancel specific bee-toxic pesticides, it will reshape the EPA process for permitting pesticides to be used in our communities and homes in the first place. Current law is filled with language that allows chemical lobbyists to unduly influence EPA decisions and loopholes that favor pesticide dependency instead of incentivizing alternatives like organic practices and products. 

Under SAPA, pesticides that pose risks to pollinators will undergo a higher level of review by a board of unbiased pollinator experts. If these experts, who will not have conflicts of interest with the chemical industry, determine a pesticide is too toxic, then it will be removed or never allowed on the market in the first place. 

SAPA creates a sustainable model for pollinator protection, including an annual, ongoing review on the health of pollinator populations. In the face of an EPA captured by chemical company corruption, SAPA will become an important tool to prevent ongoing chemical crimes against pollinators and the environment.

Independent laboratory testing of items that children and families typically eat, including cereal, apples, applesauce, spinach, and pinto beans, finds that Kroger’s private-label foods contain toxic pesticides—glyphosate, organophosphates, and neonicotinoids. These pesticides are linked to adverse human health impacts ranging from increased risk of cancer and infertility to harm to children’s developing brains and endocrine disruption. They are also associated with harm to bees and other pollinators.

Tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Biden to ban all pesticides and treated seeds that harm pollinators—from neonicotinoids, fipronil, synthetic pyrethroids, organophosphate insecticides to the herbicide glyphosate—and assist land managers, from farmers to landscapers, to transition to organic practices that prohibit the use of these deadly chemicals. Tell the Biden administration to reestablish a national strategy to work across agencies to eliminate our reliance on toxic pesticides and assist in the transition to organic land management—in the interest of protecting ecosystems against the ongoing dramatic destruction of biodiversity and the insect apocalypse.

Take action to protect pollinators.

Letter to President and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
During this Pollinator Week, it time to act to get serious about protecting pollinators and in so doing eliminate toxic pesticides that are contributing to dramatic declines in biodiversity. As The New York Times wrote in November 2018, “The Insect Apocalypse is Here.” Scientists and researchers have identified three broad contributors to the crisis: pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change. With your leadership, we can shift to alternative products and practices, improve biodiversity, and begin to repair the damage done by chemical-intensive land management practices.

To ensure a serious and meaningful effort to address the threat to pollinators, we need to remove from the market pesticides and treated seeds that have been shown, through independent peer-reviewed scientific review, to harm pollinators. This requires comprehensive action against neonicotinoids and related compounds, fipronil, synthetic pyrethroids, organophosphate insecticides and the herbicide glyphosate. At the same time, it is critical that you bring the resources of government to assist land managers, from farmers to landscapers, to transition to organic practices that prohibit the use of these and other deadly chemicals.

I urge you to reestablish a national strategy to work cross-agency to eliminate our reliance on toxic pesticides that harm pollinators and assist in the transition to organic land management in the interest of protecting ecosystems and dramatic destruction of biodiversity, identified by researchers as the insect apocalypse.

In a systematic review of insect declines by researchers Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, PhD and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys, PhD, pesticide use is identified as a critical component in addressing the crisis at large. “A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide,” they write.

Without your leadership to elevate the response to the threat to pollinators, our future is threatened. As renowned UK ecologist and coauthor of the study “More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas,” David Goulson, PhD, has said, “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

I look forward to learning that you are moving forward with this recommendation to save our future. Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Representative:

Letter for new potential cosponsors
In order to reverse the devastating declining in the U.S. pollinator populations, your support of HR 4079, Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) is urgently needed.

While EPA updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

The toxic pesticides addressed by this legislation are acute and chronic poisons for pollinator populations. Studies show these chemicals can be taken up by flowering plants and exuded in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets honey bees and other pollinators feed on. Exposure then impairs pollinator reproduction, navigation, and foraging, suppresses immune system functioning, and weakens the ability to respond to parasites, pathogens, and other stressors.

There is widespread consensus in the scientific community that systemic insecticides are responsible for pollinator declines and need to be restricted. The European Union and Canada have already taken action to address these pesticides – it is time for the United States to take a stand.

SAPA not only cancels the more dangerous pollinator toxic pesticides, it also puts in place lasting protections for pollinator populations. Pesticides that pose risks to pollinators would undergo another level of review by a board of unbiased pollinator experts. If these experts determine a pesticide is too toxic, the pesticide would be removed from market or not permitted for sale in the first place. In the face of ongoing EPA inaction, we need SAPA passed today, before it is too late, and we lose the one in three bites of food that pollinators enable us to produce.

Please support pollinators by cosponsoring HR 4079, Saving America’s Pollinators Act.

Thank you.

Letter to Current Cosponsors
Thank you for being a pollinator hero and co-sponsoring HR 4079, Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA).

While EPA updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

The toxic pesticides addressed by this legislation are acute and chronic poisons for pollinator populations. Studies show these chemicals can be taken up by flowering plants and exuded in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets honey bees and other pollinators feed on. Exposure then impairs pollinator reproduction, navigation, and foraging, suppresses immune system functioning, and weakens the ability to respond to parasites, pathogens, and other stressors.

There is widespread consensus in the scientific community that systemic insecticides are responsible for pollinator declines and need to be restricted. The European Union and Canada have already taken action to address these pesticides – it is time for the United States to take a stand.

SAPA not only cancels the more dangerous pollinator toxic pesticides, it also puts in place lasting protections for pollinator populations. Pesticides that pose risks to pollinators would undergo another level of review by a board of pollinator experts. If these experts determine a pesticide is too toxic, the pesticide would be removed from market or not permitted for sale in the first place. In the face of ongoing EPA inaction, we need SAPA passed today, before it is too late, and we lose the one in three bites of food that pollinators enable us to produce.

Thank you for hearing this call and acting to protect pollinators.

Letter to U.S. Senators:
In order to reverse the devastating declining in the U.S. pollinator populations, your support of HR 4079, Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) is urgently needed. Although SAPA has 79 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, it has not yet been introduced in the Senate. Please be the supporter that pollinators need by introducing SAPA in the Senate.

While EPA updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

The toxic pesticides addressed by this legislation are acute and chronic poisons for pollinator populations. Studies show these chemicals can be taken up by flowering plants and exuded in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets honey bees and other pollinators feed on. Exposure then impairs pollinator reproduction, navigation, and foraging, suppresses immune system functioning, and weakens the ability to respond to parasites, pathogens, and other stressors.

There is widespread consensus in the scientific community that systemic insecticides are responsible for pollinator declines and need to be restricted. The European Union and Canada have already taken action to address these pesticides – it is time for the United States to take a stand.

SAPA not only cancels the more dangerous pollinator toxic pesticides, it also puts in place lasting protections for pollinator populations. Pesticides that pose risks to pollinators would undergo another level of review by a board of unbiased pollinator experts. If these experts determine a pesticide is too toxic, the pesticide would be removed from market or not permitted for sale in the first place. In the face of ongoing EPA inaction, we need SAPA passed today, before it is too late, and we lose the one in three bites of food that pollinators enable us to produce.

Please be the supporter that pollinators need by introducing SAPA in the Senate.

Thank you.

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