Let's give bees a chance

In recent years, beekeepers report they’re losing on average 30% of all honeybee colonies each winter — twice the loss considered economically tolerable.

Image: Qypchak/ Wikimedia Creative Commons

We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of most of the world’s food. Imagine no almonds, fewer apples and strawberries, less alfalfa to feed dairy cows, and the list goes on.

Image: Flickr User: Fried Dough - Creative Commons

6,000 times more toxic than DDT

Scientists point to several causes behind the problem, including global warming, habitat loss, parasites and a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics).

When seeds are treated with neonics, the chemicals work their way into the pollen and nectar of the plants — which, of course, is bad news for bees and other pollinators. Worse, for the bees and for us, neonics are about 6,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.

Just one example: After a nearby farm planted corn seeds coated with neonics in 2013, a farmer named Dave Schuit lost 37 million of his bees. “Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” said Schuit.

Image: Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative Commons

We're up against big agrichemical companies

Given the consequences for our farms and our food, you’d think we’d be doing all we can to protect bees and other pollinators from threats like neonics.  

Instead, big agrichemical companies like Dow Chemical, Bayer and Syngenta are fighting to prevent bans. And Syngenta has asked federal regulators for permission to use even larger quantities of these pesticides — as much as 400 times more than currently allowed. 

Some governments aren’t letting the big chemical companies push them around. Alarmed by the role these chemicals are playing in bee colony collapse disorder, the European Union has banned several of them; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to phasing them out on the public lands they manage; and Seattle, Minnesota and Oregon have all agreed to take some form of action against neonics. 

Some companies are taking action as well. Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club have taken steps to limit plants treated with neonics, label the plants or both. More than 100 businesses sent a letter to the White House urging the Obama administration to do more to protect bees and other pollinators against toxic pesticides. And we’ll continue to urge other retailers to phase out neonics and do more to warn gardeners and other customers.

In order to restore bee populations to health, however, we need the EPA to step up and lead. 

Image: Justin Leonard / Flickr User-Creative Commons

Together, we can give bees a chance 

Right now, we’re letting big agrichemical companies use more of the chemicals that are known to kill bees just as we’re in the midst of an unsustainable die-off in bee populations. That has to change. Now.

Join us in calling on the EPA to declare a nationwide moratorium on the use of bee-killing neonics.

Original Image: Flickr User: August Kelmn - Creative Commons

 

Issue updates

News Release | Environment America

Statement: House should adopt three-year phaseout of PFAS in military

The U.S. House Committee on Armed Services approved provisions in the annual defense policy bill early this morning that would phase out the military’s use of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams. Right now, Congress has a critical opportunity to stamp out a major threat to our public health. Millions of people across the country are currently drinking water contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals. Eliminating the use of these chemicals is the best way to protect our drinking water from these dangerous substances.

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News Release | Environment America

Senate committee advances bipartisan bill to phase out PFAS in military

The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services today announced legislation to phase out the military’s use of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams. As part of the annual defense spending bill, called The National Defense Authorization Act, the Pentagon would be restricted from purchasing PFAS foams after 2022, and prohibited from using PFAS foams after 2023. We applaud the bipartisan group of senators who came together this week to protect our drinking water from these toxic chemicals. Ending the use of these persistent, cancer-causing chemicals is the best way to prevent contamination. From Michigan to North Carolina, families are grateful for this week’s progress and counting on Congress to finish the job.

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: Congress holds three hearings on PFAS contamination

Congress is holding three hearings today to address widespread drinking water contamination from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It’s encouraging to see lawmakers cross the aisle to tackle threats to the environment and public health together. Today’s hearings and the recent flurry of activity around PFAS demonstrate the public’s pervasive concern about these toxic chemicals. We urge Congress to adopt policies that truly keep our drinking water safe.

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News Release | Environment America

65 groups call for legislation to phase out PFAS in the military within three years

Environment America submitted a letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees today, calling on Congress to pass legislation to phase out military firefighting foams that contain toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) within three years. Sixty-five environmental, veterans and community groups signed on to the letter. “Families from Michigan to West Virginia are drinking poisoned water because nearby military bases keep using these toxic chemicals,” says Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate with Environment America. “We need to leverage our military’s resources, ingenuity and grit to complete this transition away from PFAS quickly. This is a fight not just to preserve our drinking water, but to protect American lives.”

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: Environment America endorses “Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act”

Five Congressmen introduced a bill this week to combat toxic drinking water pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). While PFAS chemicals are putting the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk, EPA has failed to set a clear limit to drive cleanup of contaminated water. This bill would jump-start the process of creating an overall limit on PFAS in our drinking water. 

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