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Let's hear it for the bees

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Beekeepers and bee enthusiasts across the country are celebrating our favorite pollinators this weekend. National Honey Bee Awareness Day is an opportunity to take stock of all the ways bees contribute to our daily lives — pollinating a third of our food, for starters.

It's also an opportunity to take a hard look at the trouble facing bees. Bee populations are in drastic decline, with beekeepers reporting historic losses this past season of 40-70%. And pesticides are a key part of the problem.

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"Bee-friendly" plants? Think again.

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Honey bees are up against a lot these days, no thanks to a lack of action from EPA. And new data released today adds to the growing list of concerns for pollinators: home garden plants that come pre-treated with bee-harming pesticides.

In a pilot study released today by the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth, the groups tested plants from major home garden stores across the country, and found that more than half of the samples contained pesticides at levels shown to harm or kill bees.

Paul Towers

Bee Die-Offs: New tests find bee-killing pesticides in 'bee-friendly' plants from garden centers nationwide

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Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network North America: 916-216-1082, ptowers@panna.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 14, 2013

Bee Die-Offs: New tests find bee-killing pesticides in 'bee-friendly' plants from garden centers nationwide

175,000 people demand Lowe’s, Home Depot stop selling “pre-poisoned plants”

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A bill to protect bees!

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Late Tuesday afternoon, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a long-awaited bill to place a moratorium on bee-harming pesticides. The "Save America's Pollinators Act" would require EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides off the market until fully reviewed by independent scientists and proven safe for pollinators.

EPA's current review of these pesticides is due to conclude in 2018, with an action plan to be implemented sometime thereafter. Meanwhile, bees continue to die off in droves — and scientific evidence highlighting neonics as a key factor continues to mount. Bees need help now, and the Conyers-Blumenauer bill provides them an immediate reprieve from neonic exposures.

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Beekeepers put the pressure on EPA

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As many of us geared up for Fourth of July festivities, the nation’s largest beekeeper organizations filed a legal action against EPA for its approval of a new bee-harming pesticide.

EPA is unable (or unwilling) to act decisively to protect bees, instead fast-tracking a new pesticide to market. Beekeepers aren’t taking the issues lightly, and have turned to asserting legal pressure on the agency.

Paul Towers
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Neonic harms go well beyond bees

Neonicotinoids have been in the news a lot in recent months, and are now widely recognized as a class of insecticides contributing to the dramatic declines in honey bee populations.

Last week, a researcher out of the University of Stirling in the UK released a new study examining other ways “neonics” are impacting the environment. It turns out that the harmful effects of these insecticides are widespread — from birds to earthworms, mammals to aquatic insects.

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Buzz off, Monsanto

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Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.

This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.

Paul Towers
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EU flags another bee-harming pesticide

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Regulators across the pond are keeping up the momentum to protect pollinators, with a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adding fipronil to the list of bee-harming pesticides the agency is concerned about.

Earlier this year, EFSA raised the alarm about three other insecticides that pose a threat to bees. And the EU responded with a two-year ban on the use of those chemicals. We have yet to see if fipronil will be added to the list of restricted pesticides, but EFSA's conclusion signals that protections for bees are more likely.

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Europe steps up for bees. EPA, your turn!

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In a historic vote on Monday, the European Union (EU) passed a continent-wide restriction on the use of bee-harming pesticides. Despite immense pressure from the pesticide industry, a majority of EU countries sided with bees.

Here in the U.S., policymakers have yet to step up. And with beekeepers in this country reporting record-breaking bee losses this year — up to 40% or more — action to protect honey bees is more urgent than ever.

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Rubber-stamping pesticides?

Last week, our colleagues at NRDC released a compelling new report that highlights just how broken the pesticide approval process really is.

The report spotlights the problem of so-called “conditional” registrations, a streamlined approval process that pesticide manufacturers use to rush their products to market — while EPA turns a blind eye.

Paul Towers

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