EU Agrees Total Ban On Bee-Harming Pesticides

The Guardian      By Damian Carrington     April 27, 2018

The world’s most widely used insecticides will be banned from all fields within six months, to protect both wild and honeybees that are vital to crop pollination.

People protest ahead of the historic EU vote on a full neonicotinoids ban at Place Schuman in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Olivier Matthys/AP The European Union will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides from all fields due to the serious danger they pose to bees.

The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on Friday, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses.

Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed, in part, on the widespread use of pesticides. The EU banned the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops that attract bees, such as oil seed rape, in 2013.

But in February, a major report from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors (Efsa) concluded that the high risk to both honeybees and wild bees resulted from any outdoor use, because the pesticides contaminate soil and water. This leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, welcomed Friday’s vote: “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from Efsa. Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”

The ban on the three main neonicotinoids has widespread public support, with almost 5 million people signing a petition from campaign group Avaaz. “Banning these toxic pesticides is a beacon of hope for bees,” said Antonia Staats at Avaaz. “Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can’t live with these chemicals and we can’t live without bees.”

Martin Dermine, at Pesticide Action Network Europe, said: “Authorising neonicotinoids a quarter of a century ago was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Today’s vote is historic.”

However, the pesticide manufacturers and some farming groups have accused the EU of being overly cautious and suggested crop yields could fall, a claim rejected by others. “European agriculture will suffer as a result of this decision,” said Graeme Taylor, at the European Crop Protection Association. “Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but in time decision makers will see the clear impact of removing a vital tool for farmers.”

The UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said the ban was regrettable and not justified by the evidence. Guy Smith, NFU deputy president, said: “The pest problems that neonicotinoids helped farmers tackle have not gone away. There is a real risk that these restrictions will do nothing measurable to improve bee health, while compromising the effectiveness of crop protection.”

A spokesman for the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs welcomed the ban, but added: “We recognise the impact a ban will have on farmers and will continue to work with them to explore alternative approaches.” In November, UK environment secretary Michael Gove overturned the UK’s previous opposition to a full outdoor ban.

Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to individual bees, such as damaging memory and reducing queen numbers.

But this evidence has strengthened recently to show damage to colonies of bees. Other research has also revealed that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, prompting warnings of “ecological armageddon”.

Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said the EU ban was logical given the weight of evidence but that disease and lack of flowery habitats were also harming bees. “Also, if these neonicotinoids are simply replaced by other similar compounds, then we will simply be going round in circles. What is needed is a move towards truly sustainable farming,” he said.

Some experts are worried that the exemption for greenhouses means neonicotinoids will be washed out into water courses, where they can severely harm aquatic life.

Prof Jeroen van der Sluijs, at the University of Bergen, Norway, said neonicotinoids will also continue to be used in flea treatments for pets and in stables and animal transport vehicles, which account for about a third of all uses: “Environmental pollution will continue.”

The EU decision could have global ramifications, according to Prof Nigel Raine, at the University of Guelph in Canada: “Policy makers in other jurisdictions will be paying close attention to these decisions. We rely on both farmers and pollinators for the food we eat. Pesticide regulation is a balancing act between unintended consequences of their use for non-target organisms, including pollinators, and giving farmers the tools they need to control crop pests.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/eu-agrees-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

Study Blames Pollinator Decline on Disease, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Pointing to Bee-Killing Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides    February 12, 2015

A new study published last week asserts a viral epidemic driven by parasitic mites is contributing to the global decline in bees, problematically underplaying the significant impact that bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides have on pollinator populations, as supported by a growing body of scientific literature, especially findings that show bees’ increased vulnerability to parasites and viruses.

BeesResearchers of the study, titled“Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites” and published in the journal Science, conclude that the deformed wing virus (DWV), which is typically transmitted through its main vector, the Varroa mite, is globally distributed and recently spread from a common source, European honeybee Apis mellifera. Lead researcher Lena Bayer-Wilfert, PhD, of the University of Exeter, said European bees are at the heart of the global spread of what she calls a “double blow” for colonies. “This is clearly linked to the human movement of honey bee colonies around the globe,” she told BBC News.

Co-researcher Professor Roger Butlin of the University of Sheffield said DWV was a major threat to honey bee populations across the world with the epidemic “driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.” Professor Stephen Martin of the University of Salford, another co-researcher, said the combination of the virus and the mite were at the heart of the crash in honeybee populations. “It supports the idea that DWV is the main cause for the colony losses associated with Varroa and that this comes from European bees,” he said, according to BBC.

The new study, however, fails to acknowledge the role that neonicotinoids are playing in the pollinator decline. Other studies on the subject reveal a clear link between these chemicals and the synergistic effects they have on bees when combined with parasites and disease, such one published by Di Presco et al. (2013), which found that the neonicotinoid clothianidin reduced insect immunity, as well as promoted of viral replication in honey bees by up to 1,000-fold, after exposure to field-realistic and sublethal doses. A review of recent literature concludes that the weight of evidence “strongly confirms that systemic insecticides, notably the neonicotinoids…, are the primary factor in the death of millions of bee colonies globally.”

Neonicotinoid are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets from which bees forage and drink. They are particularly dangerous because, in addition to being acutely toxic in high doses, they also result in serious sublethal effects when insects are exposed to chronic low doses, as they are through pollen and water droplets laced with the chemical, as well as dust that is released into the air when coated seeds are planted with automated vacuum seed planters. These effects cause significant problems for the health of individual honey bees as well as the overall health of honey bee colonies. Effects include disruptions in bee mobility, navigation, feeding behavior, foraging activity, memory and learning, and overall hive activity.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Farm, beekeeper, and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow in the European Union’s footsteps and suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market. We suggest an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids. See how you can help through Bee Protective.

Sources: ScienceBBC

http://goo.gl/7aDQfx

Home Depot to Phase Out Bee Killing Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides   December 4, 2015 

Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement chain, has announced that it will no longer use neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides (which have emerged as the leading class of pesticides responsible for bee declines) in 80 percent of its flowering plants, and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018. This follows the announcement made by Lowe’s earlier this year to phase out the sale of products containing neonicotinoid pesticides within 48 months.

October_2013_home_depot_logoOn its Eco Options gardening page, Home Depot says the following: “Our live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, so that now over 80% of our flowering plants are not treated HomeDepotWinBP with neonicotinoids. We will continue this decrease unless, 1) it is required by state or federal regulation, or 2) undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on our live goods does not have a lethal or sub lethal effect on pollinators. Otherwise we will have a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on our live goods by the end of 2018.”

“It’s important that retailers begin to make the switch toward safer products for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are “helping consumers break away from a dependency on the use of toxic pesticides in their homes and gardens,” he continued in a statement to Friends of the Earth. These decisions signal a shift in the marketplace away from bee-toxic pesticides, despite the lack of regulatory action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Advocates want to see these actions by two major retailers prompt other significant retail chains to move toward safer alternatives.

Home Depot’s newest commitment to protecting pollinators follows steadfast demands from environmental allies and consumers to take neonicotinoids off of the shelves. Home Depot previously decided to start requiring all nursery plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids to carry a label to inform customers, following a report written last year. The report,Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid pesticides. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright and concentrations in the flowers’ pollen and nectar were assumed to be comparable. Further, 40% of the positive samples contained two or more neonics.

While neonicotinoid insecticides have been responsible for high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, there is a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to impairment in reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications, and immune response at doses far below those that cause bee kills. An extensive overview of major studies showing the effects of neonics on pollinator health can be found on Beyond Pesticides’ What the Science Shows webpage.

The easiest way to ensure that seeds are not treated with neonics is to buy seeds that are certified organic or plants grown with organic practices. While untreated seeds are a step in the right direction, they do not ensure that the seed production practices are protective of bees or that residual chemicals do not contaminate the plant. For example, studies raise concerns over the connection between the use of fungicides and the declining overall health of bee colonies, shining a light on the negative impacts their use has on overall bee health. Seeds and plants that are certified organic, on the other hand, do not permit the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. To assist consumers in making the best choice for pollinator protections, Beyond Pesticides launched its Pollinator-Friendly Seed Directory, a comprehensive list of companies that sell organic seeds to the general public. Toxic pesticides harmful to bees, including neonics, are not permitted in seeds certified organic, which display the USDA Organic label on their packaging. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

Individual municipalities, encouraged by local interests, have also seen success in taking meaningful action against the use of neonicotinoids. The City of Portland, Oregon recently votedunanimously to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on city-owned property because these pesticides are persistent in the environment, harmful to pollinators, and have been involved inacute bee kills in other areas of the state. Similar actions have been seen in Eugene, Oregon,Skagway (Alaska), Shorewood, MinnesotaBoulder, Colorado and, in Washington State, Thurston CountySeattle, and Spokane. These local actions show the power of communities to protect and conserve their natural resources from the dangers of products containing neonicotinoids

The next step is to encourage other retail chains to follow in the footsteps of localities, and big retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s. True Value and Ace Hardware pride themselves in being leaders in customer satisfaction, so we need to show them that their customers don’t want neonics in their products and on their plants. There are no more excuses — we know it’s possible to get these pesticides off their shelves. It’s time for True Value and Ace Hardware to join their competitors and eliminate neonics. You can encourage this switch by signing onto our letter asking them to show similar leadership and commit to not sell neonicotinoid pesticides.

For more information on how hardware stores can go organic and protect pollinators, see Beyond Pesticides’ video, Making the Switch, and our report on A Well-Stocked Hardware Store!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Friends of the Earth

Read at: http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2015-12--home-depot-to-phase-out-bee-killing-pesticides

Scientists Release Landmark 'Worldwide Assessment' of Bee-Harming Pesticides, Call for Global Action

Center for Food Safety     Press Release    June 24, 2014

9 scientists review over 800 peer-reviewed publications and urge more restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides

Following last week’s celebration of “National Pollinator Week” and aPresidential Memorandum to kick-start federal action on bees, the first wide-scale analysis of two classes of pesticides linked to declining bee populations was released early today.

The “Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA)” — undertaken by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides — documents significant harms to bees and ecosystems. Global scientists are calling for new, dramatic restrictions on bee-harming pesticides in the United States and beyond. The report also suggests that the current regulatory system has failed to capture the range of impacts of these pesticide products. 

“This report should be a final wake up call for American regulators who have been slow to respond to the science,” said Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America. “The weight of the evidence showing harm to bees and other pollinators should move EPA to restrict neonicotinoids sooner than later. And the same regulatory loopholes that allowed these pesticides to be brought to the market in the first place — and remain on the shelf — need to be closed.”

The report will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research and is being released at events in Brussels, Manila, Montreal and Tokyo over the next two days. It underscores that neonicotinoid pesticides and their breakdown products are persistent and harmful, even at very low levels.

“The science clearly shows that, not only are these systemic pesticides lethal to pollinators, but even low doses can disrupt critical brain functions and reduce their immunity to common pathogens,” said Nichelle Harriott, staff scientist at Beyond Pesticides.

“To save our invaluable pollinators, EPA, USDA and all Federal agencies must read this report and immediately implement regulatory remedies against the ongoing neonicotinoid disaster,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, PhD, senior scientist for Center for Food Safety. “We know from recent studies that neonicotinoid seed treatments are generally not improving yields or even keeping common pests at bay. They aren’t serving farmers and they certainly aren’t serving pollinators. It is time to address this common route of exposure.”

Neonicotinoids, highlighted in the report released today, are a newer class of systemic insecticides that are absorbed by plants and transported throughout the plant’s vascular tissue, making the plant potentially toxic to insects. Imidacloprid (Bayer), then later clothianidin (Bayer), thiamethoxam (Syngenta) and dinotefuran first came into heavy use in the mid-2000s. At the same time, beekeepers started observing widespread cases of colony losses, leaving beekeepers unable to recoup their losses.

This past year was another challenging one for farmers and beekeepers, with beekeepers reporting average losses of over 45%.

“The report lends credence to what beekeepers have been saying for several years,” said Jeff Anderson, beekeeper and owner of California-Minnesota Honey Farms. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production. It’s high time regulators realize that applying toxins to plants makes them toxic to bees.”

Over the past few years, advocacy groups and beekeepers have filed legal petitions and lawsuits with EPA, calling on the agency to suspend the use of neonicotinoids.  Yet, over two years later, the agency has refused and indicated it will not finish its review for clothianidin and thiamethoxam, as well as other neonicotinoids, until 2018. Meanwhile, environmental regulators in Europe instituted a 2-year moratorium on the chemicals last December based on the evidence from independent studies.

In addition to bees, the report highlights the far-reaching impacts of neonicotinoids on entire ecosystems, from direct exposure to persistence in soil and water. Bumble bees, butterflies and other pollinators that serve both agriculture and provide ecosystem support services are also in jeopardy from these pesticides.

In addition to neonicotinoids, the report also focuses on the insecticide fipronil, which is also linked to impacts on bees and has been targeted by European regulators for an additional ban.

Today’s report underscores previous summaries of scientific studies on the impact of pesticides on pollinators, including those compiled by groups like Pesticide Action NetworkCenter for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and American Bird Conservancy.

Read at: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/3255/scientists-release-landmark-worldwide-assessment-of-bee-harming-pesticides-call-for-global-action

Pesticide Lobby Spends Millions to Defend Chemicals Tied to Bee Deaths

Huffington Post    By Christina Wilkie    3/29/14 

WASHINGTON -- The chemical pesticide lobby is waging a multi-million dollar battle to prevent regulation of chemicals linked to the dramatic escalation in the deaths of pollinating bees over the past year. 

CropLife America, the trade association that represents more than 90 of the world's biggest agro-chemical manufacturers, spent nearly $2.5 million last year lobbying against bills that sought to increase oversight of chemical manufacturing and transfer, strengthen drinking water standards and fund research into the effects of pesticides on humans.

The lobbying expenses are part of an ongoing lobbying blitz launched in 2010 by the pesticide industry to fight any efforts by the Obama administration to regulate pesticides. Since 2008, Croplife America has poured $11.2 million into lobbyists, and another $643,000 into a PAC that backs congressional candidates sympathetic to the chemicals industry.

One class of pesticides that has international scientists and beekeepers increasingly worried are called neonicotinoids -- a chemical cousin of nicotine. Neonicotinoids are genetically embedded into seeds before they are planted, and last much longer than traditional spray pesticides. Last week a group of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over its approval of certain neonics, as they are known.

CropLife argues that neonics are safe, and CropLife America president Jay Vroom told The New York Times this week that science “supports the notion that the products are safe and are not contributing in any measurable way to pollinator health concerns." In 2011, Vroom earned $826,146 in salary and benefits from Croplife and its related entities.

The current chairman of Croplife America is John Croshniak, a pesticide specialist at the chemical giant DuPont. The former chairman, who stepped down in 2011, is Bill Bucknell, a senior executive in the pesticides division of Bayer, another one of the world's largest chemical manufacturers.

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...

Read more...

Accused of Harming Bees, Bayer Researches a Different Culprit

The New York Times   By Danny Hakim   12/11/13

MONHEIM, Germany - Bayer cares about bees. 

Or at least that’s what they tell you at the company’s Bee Care Center on its sprawling campus here between Düsseldorf and Cologne. Outside the cozy two-story building that houses the center is a whimsical yellow sculpture of a bee. Inside, the same image is fashioned into paper clips, or printed on napkins and mugs.

“Bayer is strictly committed to bee health,” said Gillian Mansfield, an official specializing in strategic messaging at the company’s Bayer CropScience division. She was sitting at the center’s semicircular coffee bar, which has a formidable espresso maker and, if you ask, homegrown Bayer honey. On the surrounding walls, bee fun facts are written in English, like “A bee can fly at roughly 16 miles an hour” or, it takes “nectar from some two million flowers in order to produce a pound of honey.” Next year, Bayer will open another Bee Care Center in Raleigh, N.C., and has not ruled out more in other parts of the world.

There is, of course, a slight caveat to all this buzzy good will.

Bayer is one of the major producers of a type of pesticide that the European Union has linked to the large-scale die-offs of honey bee populations in North America and Western Europe. They are known as neonicotinoids, a relatively new nicotine-derived class of pesticide. The pesticide was banned this year for use on many flowering crops in Europe that attract honey bees.

Bayer and two competitors, Syngenta and BASF, have disagreed vociferously with the ban, and are fighting in the European courts to overturn it...

Read more...  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/business/energy-environment/accused-of-harming-bees-bayer-researches-a-different-culprit.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

The ABF's EPA Webinar Series is Now Open to the General Public

EPA - Assessing Pesticide Exposure to Bees
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 5:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. AKST / 2:00 p.m. HST
Kris Garber, Senior Biologist, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs' Environmental Fate and Effects Division & Reuben Baris, Fate Scientist, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs' Environmental Fate and Effects Division

The American Beekeeping Federation Education Committee has been hard at work developing new ways to keep its members engaged and informed in between ABF annual conferences each year. The Conversation with a Beekeeper Webinar Series is the first interactive venture to deliver information directly to the membership.

Currently, we have a five-part webinar series of presentations by the Environmental Protection Agency on pesticides. The first two EPA webinars covered such critical and informational topics, the ABF Board of Directors agreed to open access to the last three to all of the beekeeping industry and the general public.

All members and friends of the industry are encouraged to register and participate. Links to register for each session are included below. 

Click here to register 

Collapse Of The Honeybee Industry Could Cost Hundreds of Billions of Dollars

Business Insider  By Diane Spector  6/24/13

Honeybees don't just produce honey: The hard-working insect is also fundamental to the world's food supply. 

One-third of the food we eat depends on insect pollination, mostly by honeybees that are raised and managed by beekeepers.

The value of insect pollinators on world agricultural production, which accounts for their role in producing better quality and quantity of harvests...

Read more... 

http://www.businessinsider.com/collapse-of-the-honeybee-industry-could-cost-hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars-2013-6#ixzz2Xj4yyCQZ

48 Hours to Ban Bee Killers

AVAAZ.org   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.

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