Pesticides on Brink of Ban Over Honey Bee Losses

Western Farm Press    By Chris Bennett in Farm Press Blog     2/20/14

A neonicotinoid ban might cost Europe up to $23 billion and put 50,000 jobs on the chopping block. 

For U.S. agriculture and California, the neonicotinoid outcome in Europe may serve as a regulatory road map.

Honey bees are a massive global business, responsible for a third of the world’s food production. Honey bees provide $15 billion in added U.S. crop value each year, and as the USDA reports, “About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.”

It’s difficult to overstate honey bee significance to the planet’s food security. And since 2006, after the bullrush onset of Colony Collapse Disorder, scientists and beekeepers have looked for a source of blame; a cause to explain millions of abandoned hives and billions of dead bees.

The EU, mainly based on the research of Italian biologist Marco Lodesani, thinks it has fingered the culprit: neonicotinoid pesticides. According to Businessweek, three years of research led Lodesani to a conclusion of toxic poisoning: “Our findings show that the bee colonies are dying off in such large numbers, and that the link is pesticides,” said Lodesani. He added that the ‘pharma’ link, as he calls it, is strong enough to rule out other suspected causes, such as a deadly virus, as a principle cause for colony deaths.”

The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA), took Lodesani’s report and ran with it. As a result, neonicotinoid pesticides are on the brink of European ban. On Feb. 25, the EU’s 27 member states will vote on a proposed two-year neonicotinoid ban (the vote has been pushed back to March 14-15); ratification will require a majority vote and if passed, the ban will go into effect on July 1. Narrowed down, the neonicotinoid legislation puts three chemicals in the crosshairs: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam...


Congress, Pull bee-toxic pesticides off the market

Pesticide Action Network  1/17/13

Good news! Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have introduced the "Save America's Pollinators Act," a bill that will require EPA to pull bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides from the market until their safety is proven.

Urge your Representative to support this critical bill.

Scientists tell us that "neonics" are a key contributing factor to dramatic bee die-offs. Yet these insecticides continue to be widely used, and EPA won't take action until after its review is complete in 2018. Meanwhile bees continue dying off in droves, with beekeepers reporting losses between 40-70% this year.

The Save America's Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) would suspend use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence — and field studies — demonstrate no harmful impacts to pollinators. This is the fighting chance our honey bees need.

Contact your Representative now!

Oregon Temporarily Restricts Pesticide Use Following Bee Deaths

Los Angeles Times   By David Kelly  6/27/13

State officials in Oregon are temporarily restricting the use of more than a dozen pesticide products following the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees in the Portland area this month.

The measure, effective immediately, will last for 180 days while the Oregon State Agricultural Department investigates incidents of a mass bee die-off in the Portland suburb of Wilsonville, and a much smaller die-off in neighboring Hillsboro.

Eighteen pesticide products containing the active ingredientdinotefuran and used for ornamental, turf and agricultural applications have been banned for now. 

“I have directed the agency to take this step in an effort to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until...

Read more... 


Europe Steps Up For Bees. EPA, Your Turn

Pesticide Action Network   5/2/13

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.

The EU vote comes after significant findings by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) that neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) in particular pose an unacceptable risk to bees.

With a simple majority of 15 nations voting in support of the neonic ban on Monday, it didn't gain the required “qualified majority.” Protocol in this instance leaves the final decision to the European Commission, which has signaled full support. As stated by Tonio Borg, Health and Consumer Commissioner:

"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion annually to European agriculture, are protected."

With the European Commission's backing, the two-year ban will go into effect in December, restricting the use of bee-harming neonics clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam throughout the EU.

Industry shenanigans

While powerful grassroots support of bee-protective policies has been growing, the prospect of restrictions on use of their pesticide products prompted a "fierce behind-the-scenes campaign" from Bayer and Syngenta. Bayer manufactures clothianidin and imidacloprid, while Syngenta produces thiamethoxam.

As reported in The Guardian:

The chemical companies, which make billions from the products, have lobbied hard, with Syngenta even threatening to sue individual European Union officials involved in publishing a report that found the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees.

Other pressure tactics employed by the pesticide industry include distorting scientific findings, blaming harms to bees on farmers and convening with decisionmakers behind closed doors.

More work to do

While the new EU ban is a huge victory for bees — and the network of organizations and individuals working for bee-protective policies throughout Europe — there is more work to be done. Referencing the fact that the ban will expire in two years, Keith Tyrell, executive director of PAN-UK, released the following statement:

“Whilst we welcome the EU vote as a significant step forward, we are dismayed that it is only a temporary half measure which goes nowhere near far enough in protecting our bees and other vital pollinators from the harm of neonicotinoid pesticides."

Here in the U.S., policymakers have yet to take decisive action on behalf of bees. While loss of habitat, pathogens and nutrition all play a role in bee die-offs, a growing body of scientific evidence points to pesticides as a key catalyst. And since neonics are a known factor, policymakers can (and should) address the issue. Quickly.

As PAN spokesperson Paul Towers says, time is of the essence:

"Unless U.S. officials act soon, bee populations may not recover, threatening the livelihood of beekeepers and the agricultural economies that rely on pollination and honey production.”

Bees pollinate one in three bites of food we eat and sustain our agricultural economy. We all rely on them daily, and they are in dire need of help. EPA, time to step up.

Take Action » Urge EPA to protect bees from harmful pesticides. The science linking pesticides to bee die-offs is only getting stronger. And bees are getting sicker. Protecting these vital pollinators is more urgent than ever.


Battle against pesticide-makers to save honeybees from a sticky end

The Times (UK) By Oliver Moody  2/28/13

Pressure is building on the Government to ban the use of pesticides linked to a collapse in bee populations.

More than a quarter of MPs have backed a campaign to cut the use of the chemicals as Europe prepares for a crucial debate on the issue.

Nick Boles, the Planning Minister, and Michael Fabricant, the Conservative Party vice-chairman, are among 181 MPs who support a drive to impose restrictions, according to a list seen by The Times. Other leading politicians to sign up include Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader.

In a fortnight’s time EU officials will...


(UK) B&Q and Wickes Pledge to Withdraw Products Harmful to Bees

The Guardin (UK)   By Fiona Harvey   1/29/13

The retailers will remove products containing neonicotinoids, which are linked to the decline in the bee population

Two of the UK's biggest home improvement retailers have pledged to remove products from their shelves containing pesticides linked to the decline in the bee population.

B&Q and Wickes, two of the best known names in garden centres and DIY, said on Tuesday they would remove products containing neonicotinoids. These chemicals, commonly used as pesticides, have been suspected for years of harming bees, but were identified this year as having a devastating effect on the pollinators.

B&Q is banning the only product it sells containing imidacloprid, one of the neonicotinoid family of insecticides, and Wickes will later this year take off products containing the related thiamethoxam compound. 

Along with a third compound, clothianidin, these are the three neonicotonoidsidentified by the European Food Safety Authority as threatening serious damage to bees.

The move by the retailers comes in response to long-running campaigns from various environmental organisations, who have warned of the links between the pesticides and bee deaths...

Read more..

Another Bee Disaster Waiting to Happen

Beyond Pesticides For Release: January 14, 2013

Sulfoxaflor Proposed Pesticide Registration Decision Available for Public Comment 

The EPA is seeking comment on its proposed decision to conditionally register the new active ingredient sulfoxaflor, formulated as a technical product and two end-use products for use in production agriculture. The proposed use sites are barley, bulb vegetables, canola, citrus, cotton, cucurbit vegetables, fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables, low growing berry, okra, ornamentals (herbaceous and woody), pistachio, pome fruits,  root and tuber vegetables, small fruit vine climbing (except fuzzy kiwifruit), soybean, stone fruit, succulent, edible podded and dry beans, tree nuts, triticale, turfgrass, watercress and wheat.  

The agency finds this decision to be in the public interest because the registration of this pesticide for use on these crops will provide growers with a new pest management tool to kill a broad spectrum of piercing/sucking insects, including species that are difficult to control. For example, the agency granted a Section 18 Emergency Exemption in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana for use of unregistered sulfoxaflor on cotton to control the tarnished plant bug, an insect that has developed resistance to alternative registered pesticides. Sulfoxaflor is also a valuable new tool for managing the development of pesticide resistance. 

The EPA’s proposed decision document and supporting documents will be posted at under EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0889 for a 30-day public comment period.


Beyond Pesticides

TAKE ACTION:  Tell EPA- Submit a Comment

EPA is set to repeat an ecological calamity by registering the new pesticide sulfoxaflor, knowing that the chemical is highly toxic to bees, and without sufficient evidence of its safety. Tell EPA not to allow the decline of more pollinators, and withdraw sulfoxaflor’s registration.

48 Hours to Ban Bee Killers   1/29/13

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 48 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction.

Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees. Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But, Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few.

We know our voices count! Last year, our 1.2 million strong petition forced US authorities to open a formal consultation on pesticides -- now if we reach 2 million, we can persuade the EU to get rid of these crazy poisons and pave the way for a ban worldwide. Sign the urgent petition and share this with everyone -- Avaaz and leading MEPs will deliver our message ahead of this week's key meeting in Brussels.