While the European Union and Russia is moving very fast to ban the chemicals that are killing the honey bee population, not so America.
Officials at the Department of Agriculture in Washington are refusing to act on a request to restrict a certain class of backyard pesticides that are suspected of killing off scores of honey bees.
From the Yakima Herald Republic newspaper:
The department announced the decision Thursday following a 60-day review of a petition submitted by Thurston County commissioners.
The county, at the request of county beekeepers, asked the department on April 8 to limit residential use of neonicotinoid pesticides used to kill aphids, weevils and other insects on ornamental plants. The insecticides also are used on crops, but limits on those uses were not requested.
The department said there was not enough evidence to support the request.
“There is currently no documented evidence that the use of the neonicotinoid insecticides on ornamental plants is causing a significant adverse effect on honey bee colony health in Washington state,” department Director Bud Hover told Thurston County commissioners in a letter.
“Because it has not been established that this use is a significant contributor to the decline of honey bee colonies in Thurston County or elsewhere in the state, the proposed use restrictions are not appropriate at this time.”
What’s more, both the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency has said that the dramatic decline in bee populations are due to a number of factors – parasites, poor nutrition, disease, genetics and some pesticide exposure.
State agriculture officials said they would continue to monitor studies and ask federal regulators if additional pesticide restrictions might be needed at some point in the future.
European Union officials, however, are less hesitant. The EU recently imposed a two-year moratorium on neonics because of studies that link them to harm in bees.
Forbes magazine online sums up the situation:
It’s estimated that over the past five years, some 30 percent of bees in the United States have either disappeared or failed to survive to pollinate blossoms in the spring.
That’s about 50 percent more than the rate expected. The problem is direr in some other countries.
Others say the trend of bee deaths is historical and not related to neonics, GMOs or anything else related to biotechnology.
But whatever the cause – and the skeptics of neonics have no hard data to prove they are right and the advocates of banning them are wrong – it is extremely worth it to find out exactly what is causing them to die off, considering that bee pollination is vital to the maintenance of our food supply.
Less food, higher prices without bee pollination.
“A third of all our food is pollinated by honey bees,” commercial beekeeper James Doan told CBS News. “I think people just need to really be aware that bees are so important, not just for honey production, but for pollination in the United States.”
He notes that bees pollinate just about all our produce – from apples and pears to green beans, pumpkins, and squash, and so on.
Without them – or without as many to do the job – the nation’s food supply will suffer.
Crops won’t yield as well, and with a diminished supply will come higher prices.
“Without them you’re gonna have higher prices that you’re going to pay for fruits and vegetables. And those higher prices are not going to mean better products,” Doan said.
He, too, blames neonics.
“They block the nerve endings of the bee, and so the bee is paralyzed and then what happens is they starve to death, so you see the bee shaking, and it’s a very horrific way of dying for a bee,” he said.
“We’re finding these chemicals in the beehives. We know they’re there. We’re finding them in the bees. So we know they’re killing bees,” Doan told CBS News.