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