Standing outside EPA headquarters in Washington DC yesterday, beekeepers — flanked by Center for Food Safety, PAN and Beyond Pesticides — called for immediate action to protect bees from hazardous pesticides.
It’s not the first time EPA has been asked to take action. Far from it. For the past two years beekeepers, PAN and allies — including more than a million people across the country — have submitted numerous public and legal petitions urging the Agency to move more quickly in its evaluation of bee-harming pesticides, and fix the flawed process for allowing them on the market in the first place.
Pesticide corporations like Bayer have continued to assert influence over government decision-making, pushing for continued use of neonicotinoid products like clothianidin. Frustrated beekeeper David Hackenberg, profiled in a new documentary out this week, spoke at today's event and stated clearly: “We have become a nation driven by the chemical industry.”
Research out this week in Nature further links pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, with significant and harmful impacts on hives. As Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott notes, the pesticide affected worker bee efficiency — reducing the amount of pollen harvested — and resulted in more lost workers and fewer new bees being born.
Neonicotinoids are a class of systemic pesticides that are used as seed coatings and taken up and expressed through the entire plant system, as well as pollen and nectar, where bees can interact with them. PAN’s “Honey Bees and Pesticides: State of the Science” report documents the strong body of evidence that suggest pesticides are a critical factor in bee declines.
While several members of Congress are also calling on EPA to move more quickly in its review of bee-harming pesticides, these calls have gone unanswered so far. Those in Congress calling for swifter EPA action include Representative Markey (MA), and Senators Whitehouse (RI), Gillibrand (NY) and Leahy (VT).
Today's event was intended to get EPA's attention and continue building momentum for swift action to protect bees. But if EPA continues to turn a deaf ear to public outcry, Congress has the oversight authority and responsibility to ensure the Agency is doing its job effectively.
It's time for Congress to step up.
Take Action » Join thousands across the country urging Congress to step up and protect pollinators from harmful pesticides! Bees need action now.