You’ve seen the headlines:
America’s Wild Bees Are Dying and Ecosystem Collapse Will Follow, reports Newsweek.
Pesticides Are Harming Bees in Literally Every Possible Way, warns Wired.
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here, says the New York Times.
Here’s your opportunity to do something about it.
TAKE ACTION: Ask your members of Congress to be original cosponsors of the soon-to-be-reintroduced Save America’s Pollinators Act!
After you use our online form to contact your member of Congress, you can also download and print this petition and circulate among your friends.
The Save America’s Pollinators Act will soon be reintroduced. And it needs new sponsors.
Bees of all kinds, managed and wild, have suffered huge losses in recent years. In 2017-18, beekeepers in the U.S. lost an estimated 40.1 percent of their managed honeybee colonies.
In the U.S., native bee species provide $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year. But nearly 1 in 4 of these pollinators are imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction, according to a 2017 report from the Center for Biological Diversity.
The crisis, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has been traced back to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides. The link between CCD and neonics has been confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority, which banned neonics in 2018, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which plans to cancel the registration of two neonics. (Unfortunately, the EPA plans to continue allowing the use of imidacloprid, the world’s largest-selling insecticide and second-largest selling pesticide, after glyphosate, Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide).
Neonic insecticides were developed by Bayer in the 1990s. Their use skyrocketed when Monsanto started using them to coat their genetically modified seeds. Now, nearly 100 percent of U.S. corn seed is treated with neonics. The use of neonics is so pervasive that they are now found in drinking water and fields—even unplanted fields that haven’t been treated with neonics.
Neonic pollution is so pervasive that “pollinator strips” planted to provide refuge for bees are contaminated. A 2018 study showed that neonic contamination of honey has persisted since the EU moratorium went into effect in 2013.
Neonics don’t just harm pollinators. Birds are dying from ingesting neonic-treated seeds. When insect populations collapse, insect-eating birds can’t survive. And neither can other insectivorous such as shrews, lizards and frogs.
“If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse,” warns 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.”
Farmers aren’t to blame. The neonic coatings aren’t a huge selling point for farmers buying seeds. Many corn farmers don’t even know that the seeds they buy have been treated. Only a tiny fraction of the corn crop is subject to the pests neonics target. Even for farmers who do see pests that neonics could attack, cost-benefit analyses reveal that few get what they pay for from treated seeds.
By all accounts, neonic seed treatments are an expensive failure—but that hasn’t hurt sales because farmers don’t really have a choice. Monsanto decides what seeds the company will offer, and Monsanto has gone all-in on neonics.
Now that Bayer and Monsanto have merged, the situation can only get worse.
We need a ban on Bayer’s neonics before Monsanto starts coating 100 percent of the seeds it sells.