125+ Groups Call on President Obama to Protect Bees, Pollinators from Pesticides

Pesticide Action Network   Press Release   March 2, 2015

Washington, DC — More than 125 conservation, beekeeping, food safety, religious, ethnic and farming advocacy groups today urged President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to take swift and meaningful action to protect honey bees and other pollinators from toxic pesticides.

“It’s time to stop pesticides from killing our bees,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If bees and other pollinators are going to have a real future in this country, President Obama needs to take concrete steps to protect them from these toxic substances.”

The letter urges the president to take action against a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, systemic poisons that are devastating bee populations. They are also threatening the nation's food supply, since one-third of the food consumed in the United States is pollinated by bees.

Among other things the letter calls for...

Read more... http://www.panna.org/press-release/125-groups-call-president-obama-protect-bees-pollinators-pesticides

Shaking Up the White House

Pesticide Action Network  By Paul Towers  February 4, 2015

As I spoke to a packed room at the EcoFarm Conference late last month, it was clear that many of us eagerly await the unveiling of the White House's new plan to protect bees. But if recent events are any indication, officials aren’t getting the message that pesticides are a key part of the problem. Just one day before my talk, EPA approved another bee-harming pesticide.

With this recent decision, it’s time to shake up the White House hive. No, not the beehive near the Obamas’ kitchen garden, but the politics that are blocking progress for the nation’s pollinators. It's the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health that's releasing a new plan, and they really need to get it right.

Scientific evidence very clearly links pesticides, especially persistent and systemic insecticides, to bee declines. And as EPA documents, these chemicals aren't much help to farmers anyway. That’s why EPA’s approval of a so-called “safer” pesticide that's virtually identical to other bee-harming pesticides on the market is so unnerving. It raises real concerns about what the plan from the EPA-chaired White House Task Force will contain.

What’s in a plan?

GIVE BEES A CHANCE

Urge the White House task force to enact real and rapid protections for honey bees.
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As the White House announces its plan, they will need to reflect on the reality of the plight of bees, beekeepers and farmers alike. This means they can’t avoid addressing the role pesticides play. A comprehensive plan that supports a healthy food and farming system will have to immediately restrict use of systemic pesticides like neonicotinoids (neonics), and stop new, harmful products from coming to market. And it must include support and incentives to help farmers shift to more sustainable farming practices.

Some of the concepts being bandied about don’t go nearly far enough, and tend to put the burden on beekeepers, rather than on pesticide manufacturers and federal regulators.

Here are a few ideas that are worth calling out as wholly inadequate:

  • State pollinator plans: The White House may rely more heavily on states in its new plan. As recent plans out of North Dakota and Florida show, this can place the burden heavily on beekeepers. Both these new state plans establish registries and 48-hour notification for beekeepers to move or cover hives from pesticide applications. In some states there are simply no “safe” areas for bees, given repeated applications on nearby fields — plus the persistence of many pesticides (especially neonicotinoids) in plants, soil and water. Forcing beekeepers to pick-up-and-leave also disrupts pollination and places more stress on bees.
  • Best management practices: When government officials don’t want to take meaningful action, they often fall back on "best management practices" (BMPs) — voluntary guidelines for growers and beekeepers alike. Numerous national stakeholder meetings have developed and recommended such guidelines — and while important, they can’t do enough to protect bees. Providing education and sharing learnings and best practices is certainly a good thing; but this can’t be the response to the dramatic bee declines we face today.
  • Weak label changes: Comprehensive label changes are not only good, but necessary. Unfortunately, changes to date have been unclear and largely unenforceable — and haven’t led to either bee protections or meaningful reductions in use of bee-harming pesticides. Future labels need to account for the presence of bees, address seed coatings and the residual pesticides on crops, consider bees not actively pollinating at the time of application, and specifically warn applicators about the impact of pesticide combinations.

Numerous organizations have offered recommendations for a meaningful plan, one that will protect bees and other pollinators. Hopefully the White House will take these seriously. And not a moment too soon.

Jeff Blain, a beekeeper just outside of Boise, Idaho called me as I was writing up this blog with an earful (printed with his permission) about last month’s approval of flupyradifurone:

“How could they let this new pesticide slide through? The lesson I learned from my grandfather is ‘don’t put things in you can’t take out.’ It’s clear that government officials aren’t paying attention and haven’t been doing their job as watchdogs. And it’s time they started paying attention to the harm [pesticides] are doing to small growers, beekeepers and bees.”

I’m with Jeff. We expect a strong plan from the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, one that meaningfully protects bees from harmful pesticides — and one that most certainly doesn't involve approval of any new, long-lasting, systemic pesticides.

Obama Pressed to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticide Before It's Too Late

Washington Examiner    By Paul Bedard   February 5, 2015

Honey bees are endangered by a new type of pesticide. APSeveral top environmental groups have joined with the honey bee industry to urgently demand that President Obama ban a pesticide many blame for the downfall of the world’s No. 1 food pollinator before it is too late.

Fearing that Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is delaying action, the groups took the unusual step to press Obama directly in a letter that said inaction could jeopardize food supplies.

“We hope that you will prioritize action on this issue of vital importance to our food system, economy and environment and make saving bees a key piece of your legacy as president,” said the letter provided to Secrets.

It was signed by Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice; Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S., and nine other green CEOs.

At issue is a new pesticide called “neonicotinoid.” Many in the bee industry blame them for the decade-long die-off of honey bees.

“If current rates of bee die-offs continue,” the letter says, “it is unlikely that the beekeeping industry will survive EPA’s delayed timeline, putting our agricultural industry and our food supply at serious risk.”

Obama has asked EPA to move on the issue, but the industry suspects the agency will call for more studies and delays in acting on the pesticide already banned in some countries.

Honey bee pollination is responsible for some $20 billion to the U.S. economy, and responsible for pollinating the nation’s nuts, fruits and veggies. But a mysterious killer has been wiping millions of hives and the pesticide is the top target of blame.

Read at: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-pressed-to-ban-bee-killing-pesticide-before-its-too-late/article/2559835

Presidential Memorandum -- Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

The White House                                  June 20, 2014
Office of the Press Secretary 

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.

Pollinator losses have been severe. The number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest recorded population level in 2013-14, and there is an imminent risk of failed migration. The continued loss of commercial honey bee colonies poses a threat to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States, which could have profound implications for agriculture and food. Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover. The loss of native bees, which also play a key role in pollination of crops, is much less studied, but many native bee species are believed to be in decline. Scientists believe that bee losses are likely caused by a combination of stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides.

Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement. Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Establishing the Pollinator Health Task Force. There is hereby established the Pollinator Health Task Force (Task Force), to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Task Force shall also include the heads, or their designated representatives, from: ???

(a) the Department of State;
(b) the Department of Defense;
(c) the Department of the Interior;
(d) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(e) the Department of Transportation;
(f) the Department of Energy;
(g) the Department of Education;
(h) the Council on Environmental Quality;
(i) the Domestic Policy Council;
(j) the General Services Administration;
(k) the National Science Foundation;
(l) the National Security Council Staff;
(m) the Office of Management and Budget;
(n) the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
(o) such executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Co-Chairs may designate.

Sec. 2. Mission and Function of the Task Force. Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Task Force shall develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy (Strategy), which shall include explicit goals, milestones, and metrics to measure progress. The Strategy shall include the following components:

(a) Pollinator Research Action Plan. The Strategy shall include an Action Plan (Plan) to focus Federal efforts on understanding, preventing, and recovering from pollinator losses. The Plan shall be informed by research on relevant topics and include:

(i) studies of the health of managed honey bees and native bees, including longitudinal studies, to determine the relative contributions of, and mitigation strategies for, different stressors leading to species declines and colony collapse disorder, including exposure to pesticides, poor nutrition, parasites and other pests, toxins, loss of habitat and reduced natural forage, pathogens, and unsustainable management practices;

(ii) plans for expanded collection and sharing of data related to pollinator losses, technologies for continuous monitoring of honey bee hive health, and use of public-private partnerships, as appropriate, to provide information on the status and trends of managed hive losses;

(iii) assessments of the status of native pollinators, including the Monarch butterfly and bees, and modeling of native pollinator populations and habitats; ???

(iv) strategies for developing affordable seed mixes, including native pollinator-friendly plants, for maintenance of honey bees and other pollinators, and guidelines for and evaluations of the effectiveness of using pollinator-friendly seed mixes for restoration and reclamation projects;

(v) identification of existing and new methods and best practices to reduce pollinator exposure to pesticides, and new cost-effective ways to control bee pests and diseases; and

(vi) strategies for targeting resources toward areas of high risk and restoration potential and prioritizing plans for restoration of pollinator habitat, based on those areas that will yield the greatest expected net benefits.

(b) Public Education Plan. The Strategy shall include plans for expanding and coordinating public education programs outlining steps individuals and businesses can take to help address the loss of pollinators. It shall also include recommendations for a coordinated public education campaign aimed at individuals, corporations, small businesses, schools, libraries, and museums to significantly increase public awareness of the importance of pollinators and the steps that can be taken to protect them.

(c) Public-Private Partnerships. The Strategy shall include recommendations for developing public-private partnerships to build on Federal efforts to encourage the protection of pollinators and increase the quality and amount of habitat and forage for pollinators. In developing this part of the Strategy, the Task Force shall consult with external stakeholders, including State, tribal, and local governments, farmers, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations.

(d) Task Force member agencies shall report regularly to the Task Force on their efforts to implement section 3 of this memorandum.

Sec. 3. Increasing and Improving Pollinator Habitat. Unless otherwise specified, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum:

(a) Task Force member agencies shall develop and provide to the Task Force plans to enhance pollinator habitat, and subsequently implement, as appropriate, such plans on their managed lands and facilities, consistent with their missions and public safety. These plans may include: facility landscaping, including easements; land management; policies with respect to road and other rights-of-way; educational gardens; use of integrated vegetation and pest management; increased native vegetation; and application of pollinator-friendly best management practices and seed mixes. Task Force member agencies shall also review any new or renewing land management contracts and grants for the opportunity to include requirements for enhancing pollinator habitat. ?????

(b) Task Force member agencies shall evaluate permit and management practices on power line, pipeline, utility, and other rights-of-way and easements, and, consistent with applicable law, make any necessary and appropriate changes to enhance pollinator habitat on Federal lands through the use of integrated vegetation and pest management and pollinator-friendly best management practices, and by supplementing existing agreements and memoranda of understanding with rights-of-way holders, where appropriate, to establish and improve pollinator habitat.

(c) Task Force member agencies shall incorporate pollinator health as a component of all future restoration and reclamation projects, as appropriate, including all annual restoration plans.

(d) The Council on Environmental Quality and the General Services Administration shall, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, revise their respective guidance documents for designed landscapes and public buildings to incorporate, as appropriate, pollinator-friendly practices into site landscape performance requirements to create and maintain high quality habitats for pollinators. Future landscaping projects at all Federal facilities shall, to the maximum extent appropriate, use plants beneficial to pollinators.

(e) The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior shall, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, develop best management practices for executive departments and agencies to enhance pollinator habitat on Federal lands.

(f) The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior shall establish a reserve of native seed mixes, including pollinator-friendly plants, for use on post-fire rehabilitation projects and other restoration activities.

(g) The Department of Agriculture shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, substantially increase both the acreage and forage value of pollinator habitat in the Department's conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, and provide technical assistance, through collaboration with the land-grant university-based cooperative extension services, to executive departments and agencies, State, local, and tribal governments, and other entities and individuals, including farmers and ranchers, in planting the most suitable pollinator-friendly habitats.

(h) The Department of the Interior shall assist States and State wildlife organizations, as appropriate, in identifying and implementing projects to conserve pollinators at risk of endangerment and further pollinator conservation through the revision and implementation of individual State Wildlife Action Plans. The Department of the Interior shall, upon request, provide technical support for these efforts, and keep the Task Force apprised of such collaborations.

(i) The Department of Transportation shall evaluate its current guidance for grantees and informational resources to identify opportunities to increase pollinator habitat along roadways and implement improvements, as appropriate. The Department of Transportation shall work with State Departments of Transportation and transportation associations to promote pollinator-friendly practices and corridors. The Department of Transportation shall evaluate opportunities to make railways, pipelines, and transportation facilities that are privately owned and operated aware of the need to increase pollinator habitat.

(j) The Department of Defense shall, consistent with law and the availability of appropriations, support habitat restoration projects for pollinators, and shall direct military service installations to use, when possible, pollinator-friendly native landscaping and minimize use of pesticides harmful to pollinators through integrated vegetation and pest management practices.

(k) The Army Corps of Engineers shall incorporate conservation practices for pollinator habitat improvement on the 12 million acres of lands and waters at resource development projects across the country, as appropriate.

(l) The Environmental Protection Agency shall assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bee and other pollinator health and take action, as appropriate, to protect pollinators; engage State and tribal environmental, agricultural, and wildlife agencies in the development of State and tribal pollinator protection plans; encourage the incorporation of pollinator protection and habitat planting activities into green infrastructure and Superfund projects; and expedite review of registration applications for new products targeting pests harmful to pollinators.

(m) Executive departments and agencies shall, as appropriate, take immediate measures to support pollinators during the 2014 growing season and thereafter. These measures may include planting pollinator-friendly vegetation and increasing flower diversity in plantings, limiting mowing practices, and avoiding the use of pesticides in sensitive pollinator habitats through integrated vegetation and pest management practices.

Sec. 4. General Provisions.

(a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to any agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to require the disclosure of confidential business information or trade secrets, classified information, law enforcement sensitive information, or other information that must be protected in the interest of national security or public safety.

(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. ???

(e) The Secretary of Agriculture is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Read at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/presidential-memorandum-creating-federal-strategy-promote-health-honey-b