After the loss of 10 million beehives to Colony Collapse Disorder and numerous studies linking bee deaths to neonicotinoid pesticides, the U.S. government is joining the European Union to pass legislation protecting this vulnerable species.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require that warning labels be placed on four common neonictinoids (imidacloprid, clothainidin, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam). The use of these labeled pesticides will then be banned wherever pollinators are present.
The U.S. is following in the footsteps of the European Union which, in April, banned the use of neonicotinoids for two years. Recent bee deaths have threatened the existence of many common crops in both America and Europe, including almonds, blueberries, apples, avocados, cucumbers, onions and more. In the U.S. alone, bees are responsible for pollinating $30 billion worth of crops every year: roughly a third of the food Americans consume.
While this new step may begin to slow bee colony collapses, it is more of a band-aid than an actual solution. Studies have identified 21+ pesticides that are considered harmful to bees, eight of which lower resistance to disease-carrying parasites that infect individual bees and hives. As of now, only four of these pesticides will be regulated.
The new legislation also does not apply to nursery plants, many of which are contaminated with the same four pesticides that will be banned on commercial crops. According to Lisa Archer, director of the food program for Friends of the Earth, “[w]hile this is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of what is needed to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticides.” Archer added that a much-needed addition to the new laws would be to add regulations to nursery plants.
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