Victory for bees in Europe! As reported in the Guardian, the world’s most widely used insecticides will be banned from all fields in the E.U. within six months to protect both wild and commercially raised honeybees that are vital to crop pollination.
The neonicotinoid insecticides now banned in the E.U are sold by Bayer and Syngenta and used by Monsanto to coat its genetically engineered seeds. They are the cause of the massive bee die-offs that commercial beekeepers in the U.S. reported this year—and every year since 2006.
Take Action to Ban Neonics in the U.S.! Fill in the form on this page to sign our petition!
“If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”
That is the urgent warning of Dr. David Goulson of Sussex University, UK, one of the scientists behind a study showing a “horrific decline” in the flying insect populations of Germany’s nature reserves. Seventy-five percent of the insects in those areas have disappeared in the past 25 years.
Ultimately, the collapse of insect populations foretells what Goulson described as “ecological Armageddon.”
In the near term, we have enough to worry about with losses among the insects we need most, the pollinators we rely on for 35 percent of global crop production and U.S. crops worth more than $15 billion a year.
In 2009, a group of European scientists convened amid growing concern about the rapid decline in insect populations. They investigated all the possible causes of the decline and concluded that neonicotinoid insecticides might be one of the main causes. They formed the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, reviewed all 1,121 published peer-reviewed studies on neonics, as well as data from Bayer and Syngenta, and in 2015, published the Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. (The findings are summarized in the LinkTV documentary, “Neonicotinoids: The New DDT?”)
In 2017, the task force updated its review with hundreds more studies. The findings are grim, indicating that it won’t be easy to reverse the impacts of neonics now that they have saturated the environment:
• Neonics contaminate surface waters at levels harmful to aquatic insects and have been found in treated drinking water.
• Neonic pollution is so pervasive that “pollinator strips” planted to provide refuge for bees are contaminated.
• Neonic contamination of honey has persisted since the European Union moratorium went into effect in 2013.
• Chronic exposure to very low levels of neonics can cause a “delayed mortality” effect where insects do not die immediately but start dying in large numbers over time.
• Insect-eating birds can’t survive without insects to eat and neither can other insectivorous animals such as shrews, lizards, and frogs.
• Birds are dying from ingesting neonic-treated seeds.
It won’t be easy to get neonics off the market. Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, representing 40 percent of the market and $2.63 billion in sales.
Take Action to Ban Neonics!
Sign the Petition
There are many reasons all uses of neonicotinoid insecticides, including clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran and imidacloprid must be cancelled.
These insecticides are killing the bees that are essential to U.S. agriculture. They could cause an “ecological Armageddon” of mass species extinction. And they are contaminating human water and food supplies with chemicals suspected of impairing the developing human nervous system. [source: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/neonicotinoid-pesticides-bad-bees-and-may-be-bad-people-too]
With 35 percent of global crop production, including $15 billion/year worth of U.S. crops, dependent on pollinators, it is unnecessarily risky to employ a class of insecticides that is acutely and chronically toxic to bees. We will suffer staggering losses to our farm economy and severe declines in food production if the use of neonicotinoids is allowed to put commercial beekeepers out of business.
In 2007, the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America told Congress that managed honeybees could disappear by 2035. Unfortunately, in the last decade, nothing has been done to change course. In 2017, the New York Times reported that over the last six years, the bee industry that makes $500 million a year spent $2 billion to replace 10 million hives. The unsustainable losses that beekeepers are enduring will inevitably destroy the industry, causing dangerous disruptions to food production and availability.
This is a very foolish risk to take. Especially when most uses of neonics are unnecessary. The Center for Food Safety’s report, Alternatives to Neonicotinoid Insecticide-Coated Corn Seed, is the first to analyze the peer-reviewed science on the efficacy of neonic corn seed coatings for each of the most important target insects in the Corn Belt and elsewhere. The report finds that if neonic coatings on corn seed were eliminated, they would rarely be replaced with other insecticides.
We oppose the EPA’s arbitrary and capricious reversal of its previous determination that neonicotinoid-treated seeds pose little benefit.
For the little good that they do, neonicotinoids are devastating to wild bees and other pollinators and insects. When these populations collapse, insect-eating birds, shrews, lizards, and frogs go with them.
Birds can also be directly impacted by neonic exposure. As the EPA assessments acknowledge, risks posed to certain birds from eating neonic-treated seeds exceeded the agency’s level of concern—the level at which harm is known to occur—by as much as 200-fold. The EPA analysis found that if neonic-treated seeds make up just 1 percent to 6 percent of a bird’s diet, serious harms could result.
A comprehensive peer-reviewed analysis of the most recent scientific studies on neonics is available in the 2017 update of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on systemic insecticides, published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Please revise the risk assessments to include this important review of hundreds of published papers and industry studies.