WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)–May 19, 2015. The White House Pollinator Health Task Force today issued a long-awaited report outlining the Obama administration’s plans for addressing severe, nationwide declines in important pollinators. Unfortunately the plan set out in the report fails to adequately address the harm caused by pesticides, a key cause of declines in bees, monarchs and other pollinators.
“I’m glad to see the White House Pollinator Heath Task Force setting goals for increasing pollinator habitat, bringing back the monarchs, and reducing winter honeybee losses, but its recommendations don’t go nearly far enough to save our pollinators,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Environmental Health program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Countless studies have already found that pesticides, and particularly neonicotinoid insecticides, are a leading cause of pollinator declines. Our bees can’t wait for more reports and evaluations. We need to save them by banning neonicotinoids, and especially neonicotinoid seed treatments, right now.”
Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides known to have both acute and chronic effects on honeybees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species, and are a major factor in overall pollinator declines. These systemic insecticides cause entire plants, including pollen and fruit, to become toxic to pollinators; the chemicals are also slow to break down, and therefore build up in the environment.
A large and growing body of independent science links neonics to catastrophic bee declines. Twenty-nine independent scientists recently conducted a global review of more than 1,000 independent studies on neonics and found overwhelming evidence linking them to declines of bees, birds, earthworms, butterflies and other wildlife. EPA’s own scientists have already found that bee-killing neonic seed treatments, deployed on more than 100 million acres across the United States, don’t even benefit farmers.
“The actions described in this report aren’t enough to save our pollinators as long as bee-killing neonicotinoids are being used on more than 100 million acres in this country,” said Burd. “A reevaluation of neonicotinoid uses is not enough. For bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama needs to order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. And the EPA needs to stop dodging its consultation obligations and fully assess the impacts of neonicotinoids under the Endangered Species Act.”
Neonics are already banned in the European Union. Effective in 2016 they will also be banned in national wildlife refuges in the United States due to their harmful impacts on wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.