President Obama is being swarmed by four million environmental activists pushing for substantial protections for honeybees. A massive coalition of food safety activists, beekeepers, citrus growers, farmers, environmentalists, and business leaders recently converged upon the White House to deliver a save the bees petition.
The White House honeybees rally comes just prior to expected action by the Pollinator Health Task Force. The task force was created by the White House last summer. The group was tasked with enhancing the health of the little pollinators via new partnerships and regulations.
Honeybee populations have suffered a substantial decline since 2005. An accepted cause of the massive number of bee deaths remains a hotly-debated topic. While some are convinced that the varroa mite has played a primary role in the pollinator deaths, others are more steadfastly focused on the chemical herbicides used by biotech companies, such as neonicotinoids.
A 2014 Harvard study states that neonicotinoids — the dominant ingredient found in many popular insecticides which treat much of the corn in the U.S. — are to blame for honeybee colony collapse disorder. Honeybees provide pollination for 70 percent of the food we grow to eat. Bees don’t pollinate corn, but the pollen drifts elsewhere, where it makes contact with bees.
Monsanto, the largest biotech company in the world, donates heavily to both political parties. Former Monsanto executives now hold positions of power at multiple federal agencies.
The Harvard honeybee study was published in the Bulletin of Insectology. The university scientists studied 18 honeybee colonies in Massachusetts for about one year and reviewed how even low doses of two types of neonicotinoids — clothianidin and imidacloprid — impacted healthy honeybee hives over the winter. They placed the hives in three locations and at each spot gave four hives high fructose corn syrup laced with neonicotinoids and left two hives untouched. The result: Half the hives that came into contact with the insecticide suffered colony collapse disorder, and the bees that were left were not doing great.
The honeybees rally on President Obama’s doorstep reportedly coincided with both a D.C. metro ad campaign and the reintroduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. If the act becomes law, it would reportedly suspend the use of four of the most toxic neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a full review of their safety.
Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer had this to say about the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.
“Pollinators are not only vital to a sustainable environment, but key to a stable food supply. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by bees. It is imperative that we take a step back to make sure we understand all the factors involved in bee population decline and move swiftly to protect our pollinators.”
According to Representative John Conyers, the EPA plans to wait until 2018 before reviewing the registration of neonicotinoids. Conyers, like many concerned growers, farmers, environmentalists, and general Americans concerned about the food that they prepare for their families, feel the government cannot wait three more years to deal with the honeybees population decline — or colony collapse disorder.
“Our honeybees are critical to ecological sustainability and to our economy. I am urging all of my colleagues to please protect our pollinators and support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act,” Representative Conyers said.
What do you think should be done to protect the honeybees?