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Daily News Blog

20
Jun

National Pollinator Week 2023—Preserve and “BEE-Protective” of Pollinators!

Passiflora-Incarnata-gets-bees-drunk

(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2023) Welcome to National Pollinator Week, during which time 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.  

Check out this week’s calendar of activities and actions below! On social media, we will be featuring Pollinator Artwork submitted by the community, as well as the numerous cute (and “not so cute!”) pollinators that live in the world around us!  Also, check out our live Pollinator Poll!

Follow us and like our page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Monday: Juneteenth and Environmental Justice 

As Pollinator Week launches with the celebration of Juneteenth, it is time to renew our commitment to environmental justice while seeking the adoption of transformational policies and practices that recognize the urgency to address disproportionate harm inflicted by toxic pesticide use.  

Those fighting for environmental justice understand that the harms inflicted by toxic chemical production and use cause disproportionate adverse effects on people of color—from fenceline communities near chemical production plants to the hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, to the elevated risk factors for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from toxic pesticide exposure  

  • Support the Black Institute: The Black Institute isn’t a think-tank, it’s an action-tank. Through a head, heart, and feet strategy, TBI injects new ideas for achieving racial equity and justice into the policy realm. An Eco-Friendly Parks for All (EFPA) coalition partner, the Black Institute is a leader in advancing organic land management legislation in New York City that bans toxic pesticides. 

For more information on the EFPA’s successful pilot organic land management programs at eight sites across the five boroughs, check out the June 1, 2023 press conference! Blog post: New York City Parks Dept. and Advocates Announce Organic Demonstration Sites Following Passage of Law. 

Tuesday: Know your Pollinators and BEE-Protective 

Pollinators are responsible for over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. Without their services, crops like blueberries, almonds, and apples would suffer!  Pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies are commonly known for their role in pollination, but did you know that bats and beetles are also pollinators? 

Unfortunately, pollinators are suffering severe declines worldwide.  

We can all play a role in protecting pollinators simply by making an organic garden, pledging it as pollinator friendly, or even organizing your community, schools, or local government to make choices that foster pollinators. 

Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic management practices as key to protecting pollinators and the environment. The organization has long sought a broadscale marketplace transition to organic practices that legally prohibits the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and encourages a systems-based approach that is protective of health and the environment. Learn more on the role that pesticides play in pollinator decline, and actions you can take to BEE Protective.  

  • Check out the short film: “The Seeds That Poison” is a Beyond Pesticides’ feature video highlighting the hazards associated with a major use of bee-toxic pesticides – seed coatings! Please watch and share with friends and family! Click here to watch.
  • Explore your pollinators: Learn about the pollinators that exist around us on the Know Your Pollinators page on the website! Bees, birds, bats, butterflies, and more! 

Wednesday: In Peak Bloom—Summertime with Pollinators Under Threat! 

As we approach summertime with our parks and playground in peak bloom, the pollinators that allow the landscape to thrive remain under threat in their native habitats.  

Why? What are the main hazards that threaten their very existence? 
 
Pollinators are dying because their food and homes are disappearing, diseases have increased, and rising temperatures and natural disasters are affecting their ability to survive – all of which are related to the existential crisis of climate change. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure combined with climate change threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival.  
 
At the same time, pesticides are being sprayed in pollinator habitats, from fields and farms to parks and gardens. Residues from neonicotinoids (including seed treatments) and sulfoxaflor accumulate and translocate to pollen and nectar of treated plants. Pyrethroids and fipronil impair bee learning, development, and behavioral function, reducing survivability alongside colony fitness. The elimination of synthetic petrochemical toxic pesticides and a transition to organic practices can not only help combat climate change but make Planet Earth a safer place for us (and pollinators) to flourish!

  • Take local action: Use our Tools for Change organizing materials to engage your public officials or local garden center to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides! Launch a campaign to convert to organic landcare management in your local parks and other public places to make them safer for kids, pets, and pollinators alike! Be sure to mark it on the Honey Bee Haven map! 

For information on growing plants to protect pollinators, see our Pollinator-Friendly Seeds and Nursery Directory. Use the Bee Protective Habitat Guide to plant a pollinator garden suited for your region! Consider seeding white clover into your lawn; learn more from Taking a Stand on Clover. 

Thursday: Pollinators Sustaining the (Socio-economic) Ecosystem!

Pollinators play a significant role in sustaining the ecosystem, despite their size. The United Nations states that 80 percent of the 115 top global food crops depend on insect pollination, with one-third of all U.S. crops depending on pollinators, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, these vital insect populations, including managed and wild pollinators, are collapsing 

A systematic review of insect populations found that 41% of insect species worldwide are in decline, with the loss of butterflies, wild bumblebees, and honey bees linked to hazardous pesticide use in chemical-intensive agricultural systems. Additionally, “inert” ingredients in products cause similar or more severe impacts on insect populations, such as disruption in bee learning behavior through exposure to low doses of surfactants. With global reliance on pollinator-dependent crops increasing over the past decades, pollinator loss threatens food security and stability for current and future generations.  

Increasing people’s access to healthy, pesticide-free foods will protect pollinators. Declines in pollinator populations are likely to increase global malnutrition and disease. Vulnerable communities are most likely to be impacted by this effect. Produce will not disappear overnight, but become increasingly expensive and out of reach, particularly for those already living in areas with precarious access. 

The threat of pollinator losses to the food supply and human health are not future concerns, but present issues. Recent research finds 425,000 excess deaths each year can be attributed to pollinator declines caused by a lack of affordable healthy food. While low-income countries are the hardest hit economically from this decline, deaths are concentrated in middle- and high-income countries, accounting for now 1% of annual total mortality.    

In addition, protecting the farmworkers who grow our food from toxic chemicals will lead to heathier foods and healthier pollinator populations. Farmworkers are at disproportionate risk of pesticide poisoning, with an average life expectancy of 49 years!

Friday/Saturday – Partner with pollinator activists to take action!  

This past May, Nevada passed A.B. 162, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow, prohibiting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and continued momentum for targeted, common-sense restrictions. 

While Nevada joins California, Minnesota, New Jersey (the first state to eliminate neonics), and New York in leading the way, we need 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 these deadly chemicals’ use.   
 
To promote transformational change, it is vital 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. Check out Parks for a Sustainable Future to work with Beyond Pesticides and get a free action plan for transitioning your community to organic land management.
 
Stay tuned for this Saturday to take action with Beyond Pesticides via a click of the mouse! To subscribe to our Weekly News Update and Action of the Week listserv, click here!

*** 

Thank you for partnering with Beyond Pesticides this Pollinator Week! Creating lasting connections with the natural world is interwoven with a healthy ecosystem that supports critical species, such as pollinators. We protect people when we protect pollinators. 

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides. 

Image Credit: Photographer: Christy Wilkinson, “Passiflora Incarnata gets bees drunk”.

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