Participate in the USDA/EPA Listening Session Today and November 17th.

Beyond Pesticides      November 12, 2014

At the close of Pollinator Week 2014 President Obama called on government agencies to create a plan to "promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators." However, at the end of last month the Task Force announced it would miss its self-imposed December 20th deadline on its action plan, delaying needed steps towards improving pollinator health.

Now, USDA and EPA have announced two listening sessions, requesting feedback to inform a pollinator health strategy. Please join these sessions and provide input to government agencies.

• EPA's listening session will take place November 12 from 1 to 3PM EST (10am-12pm PST).
• USDA's listening session will take place Monday, November 17 from 1 to 3PM EST (10am-12pt PST).

Here's how to join: 
Online: Click the link below at least 15 min. prior to the meeting to ensure you're properly set-up.
https://epa.connectsolutions.com/pollinatorhealthtaskforcelisteningsession/

In person:
EPA session, (Today 1-3PM ET) - 1st Floor Conference Center, 2777 South Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA
USDA Session, (November 17 1-3PM ET)- 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD

In writing: In addition to the listening session, EPA will be accepting written comments at this link until November 24, 2014.

Talking Points for Comments:
EPA and USDA have a duty to protect our nation’s pollinators, and the Presidential memorandum has directed federal agencies to take action. Given average loss rates near 30% over the past 8 years, there is an urgent need to move quickly on finding long-term sustainable solutions for pollinator protection. A growing body of scientific evidence reveals connections between pollinator declines and pesticide exposure, making it evident to the public and government agencies that action must be taken to rein in these harmful chemicals.

EPA should:
- Suspend the most harmful uses of the neonicotinoids promptly after assessment, pending resolution of the severe risks. 
- Expedite the development and implementation of valid test guidelines for sub-lethal effects of pesticides on pollinators and require data from these studies for all currently-registered and any proposed new pesticides. 
- Ensure that EPA’s assessment and all future ecological assessments fully value the broad array of ecosystem services threatened not only by neonicotinoids, but all systemic pesticides. 
- Increase investment in research and funding for implementation of alternatives to neonicotinoids.
- Recommend incentives for farmers to create healthy pollinator habitats in the form of diversified, pesticide-free landscapes as an alternative to our current system of intensive monoculture.

USDA should:
- Ensure any new pollinator habitat is free of neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides. 
- Avoid pro-neonicotinoid bias in USDA activities by working to increase farmer access to neonicointoid-free seeds.
- Provide recommendations that reverse the trend of converting conservation land to cropland. 
- Disseminate information to field offices across the country regarding EPA's recent findings that neonicotinoid seed treatments do not increase yield.

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