I love my husband. We have a union that has lasted decades even though we are complete opposites. One of the best examples of our variances in likes/dislikes is camping. He loves it, yet my idea of camping is Room Service at The Four Seasons. Since many relationships are give and take, I agreed to go camping for a weekend. I had always thought I might be allergic to bees but was never 100% convinced. Well, I can now confirm I am allergic to bees. When we were packing up to come home I was stung and my arm became the size of a tree trunk in a matter of minutes. From that moment on, I learned to avoid any bee-encounters and additionally, have developed an all-natural repellent that also has bees avoiding me.
But, pure and simple, we need bees and without them, life on the planet could be compromised. The pollination of plants by bees is responsible for nearly one-third of all the food grown here in the U.S.
Bees are dying at an alarming rate and scientific data reveals that a major contributor to the demise of the bee community is from pesticide exposure.
With that information, it is beyond comprehension that people, notably the government, is doing very little to try and stop the carnage and ignoring what could become a major contributing factor to the total extinction of the entire bee population worldwide.
Results were recently released on an 18-year study that collected various data from over 60 different species of bees in England. This study concluded that the effects of pesticide exposure, especially neonicotinoid, have proven to lead to the demise of the bee population.
The study looked at canola (rapeseed) crops both ones treated with neonicotinoids and ones not treated. The difference was astounding and concluded that the bees that encountered the treated crops were significantly more likely to disappear.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are applied to seeds, particularly GMO seeds, before they are actually planted in the ground. Therefore, as a plant matures the pesticide travels throughout its “body” and is evident in pollen and nectar. These pesticides attack bees’ central nervous systems that lead to irreversible damage, and often death of the bees.
Another study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) notes a remarkable reduction in the sperm count of bees exposed to two widely used neonicotinoid pesticides – thiamethoxam and clothiandin.
What makes matters even worse is the EPA finally admitted that neonicotinoids are to blame for killing bees for nearly a decade and has gone on record to say they “could potentially take action” to “restrict or limit the use” of neonicotinoids by the end of the year. *
What is being ignored is that bees are exposed to insecticides from more than just the seed itself but also from the toxic dust that flows through the air during the planting season.
Additionally, since the neonicotinoids are used to treat the seeds, unlike pesticides used as sprays or granular applications, they carry absolutely no mandatory safety measures or restrictions imposed by the EPA.
The question on many peoples’ minds is can the planet and the population survive without pesticides?
Ensia, a magazine that covers the most challenging environmental issues recently published an article that quoted Jules Pretty, a professor at the University of Essex in the U.K. regarding the use of pesticides and sustainable agricultural practices.
“What’s encouraging is the growing evidence that farmers can lower their dependence on pesticides while maintaining agricultural production, sometimes by employing techniques that date back thousands of years. ‘Thirty percent of the crop systems were able to transition to zero pesticides,’ Pretty says. Not only that, but surprisingly, he says, ‘the innovations around sustainability are happening in the poorer countries: Bangladesh, India and countries in Africa. We really could be holding these up as beacons.”
Pretty is confident that “If enough farmers in enough developing countries can become convinced of the benefits of sustainable farming practices like IPM (Integrated Pest Management), the world’s reliance on pesticides can be lowered.”
A Canadian startup recently introduced BVT (Bee Vectoring Technology) where a tray containing a natural mold-fighting fungus, is placed inside of hives. When bees leave the hive they carry with it this substance that, in turn, places it on plants to guard against fungal disease. The system offers a safer and more sustainable alternative to synthetic chemicals and is not harmful to bees.
Tired of the madness? I urge you to call Beyond Pesticides 202.543.5450 or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org to help reach out to local elected officials to say no to these harmful pollinator-killing pesticides.
They also have implemented a petition to try and get the EPA to take action, sooner rather than later. Here is the link.
After speaking with a few representatives from the EPA they provided this chart for some simple, do-at-home measures.
*When I asked the representative from the EPA about the status of their position on the bee population and the correlation to neonicotinoid pesticides they responded that they were currently doing a risk assessment to try and stop the decrease of the bee population.
However, when pressed for a date that the risk assessment would be completed, I could not get a date (or year). Due to the fact that this risk assessment has been in the works for years, it seems possible that the EPA may be dragging their feet.