Here we are sixteen months later and the EPA has finally begun to acknowledge what research has shown for years: that neonic pesticides pose serious risks to bees, birds, other wildlife — and even human health. But, rather than taking sweeping measures to crack down on neonics, the EPA is pushing to continue allowing widespread neonic use all over the country, including on food crops.
Bees in particular, are necessary for successful food crops and their numbers have been reduced by over 90% in large part by the neonic products listed in the above referenced post. During the current corona virus pandemic many are worried about our food supply chain. We need to be more aware and concerned about how the lack of pollinators and neonic use will affect our agriculture in the future.
What Can We Do?
We can plant flowers for the pollinators
We can refrain from the use of insecticides
We can contact the EPA and complain about their lack meaningful action
We can call our US Representatives and Senators’ offices and express our concern about the EPA’s inaction
Earth Day began as a response to oil spills, smog, and polluted rivers. On April 22, 1970, over 20 million Americans protested the crisis and demanded changes to protect the environment. This first Earth Day launched The Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other countries followed suit and eventually, the United Nations signed the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The theme for this 50th anniversary of Earth Day is climate action. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of life on planet Earth. We all can and must be involved to make a difference. Our children’s and grandchildren’s lives depend on us.
“Earth Day 1970 was irrefutable evidence that the American people understood the environmental threat and wanted action to resolve it.” Barry Commoner
Bees have been declared the most important living being on the planet by the Earthwatch Institute. Seventy percent of the world’s agriculture depends exclusively on bees for pollination which enables plants to reproduce. A study conducted in Chili with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA), concluded bees are the only living being that does not carry any type of pathogen, viral, fungal or bacterial.
Alarmingly almost 90% of the world’s bee population has disappeared in the past few years, putting bees on the endangered species list. The main reasons for the loss of these tiny helpers are the uncontrolled use of pesticides, a lack of flowers, and deforestation.
According to Greenpeace, we can restore and protect the world’s bees using ‘common sense actions’ such as banning the most dangerous pesticides, protecting pollinator health by preserving wild habitat and restoring ecological agriculture.
Pollinators, mainly bees, but also butterflies and other insects are necessary for our food supply. These pollinators are responsible for the sexual reproduction of plants by cross-pollination and also provide genetic diversity. Serious pollinator decline has been a worldwide problem since toward the end of the last century.
This decline coincides with the development of neonicotinoids (neonics for short) a chemical similar to nicotine which is used in a variety of insecticides. See the Wikipedia chart below for more information. Note that the US$ amount is from ten years ago.
Neonics are known to be toxic to not only pollinators but also birds, some aquatic animals, and other wildlife. The EU and Canada, as well as other countries, have restricted the use of neonics in an effort to curb the pollinator decline. One would think that the US would have done the same, but one would be wrong. Virtually all corn grown in this country is treated with one of these insecticides. In 2014 at least one-third of all soybeans planted were treated with these products.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has been reviewing this issue and has quietly pushed back its timetable for a decision of its own review. Knowing this I was curious as to whether the EPA’s website provided any current information. What I found was interesting.
There were twenty-two references found using the word “neonic” in a search. No, I did not read them.
Apparently, due to the monthlong government shutdown, the EPA had this notice at the top of the website:
Due to a lapse in appropriations, EPA websites will not be regularly updated. In the event of an environmental emergency imminently threatening the safety of human life or where necessary to protect certain property, the EPA website will be updated with appropriate information. Please note that all information on the EPA website may not be up to date, and transactions and inquiries submitted to the EPA website may not be processed or responded to until appropriations are enacted.
In spite of protests, petitions, lawsuits (NRDC) and Congressional bills (Conyers) the EPA continues its inaction while over 4,000 species of wild bees and other pollinators are destroyed.
“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” Ramakrishna