(Editor’s Note: Natural and organic food companies are pushing for removal of neonicotinoid insecticides uses in the U.S. because they say the class of chemistry is the definite cause of pollinator population decline in the U.S., as noted in the news release below. Points put forward as fact are points of contention between the insecticide manufacturers and these companies/groups.)
More than 100 businesses, including Clif Bar, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley and Stonyfield, sent a letter to the Obama administration urging it to immediately suspend pesticides linked to global bee declines in order to protect the nation’s food supply, environment and economy. The businesses, members of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and Green America’s Green Business Network, voiced concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s delays in restricting neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely-used insecticides.
“We are very concerned about the continued and unsustainable losses of bees and other essential pollinators and what effects this will have on the bottom-line of our industries and economy,” said David Levine, CEO of ASBC. “Our business network members urge the Obama administration to take immediate action to address the threats pollinators face from pesticides,” added Fran Teplitz, Interim Executive Director of Green America.
“Declining bee populations threaten the health of farming systems across the country,” said Clif Bar & Company CEO Kevin Cleary, who signed the letter. “As an organic food company, we rely on agriculture for our ingredients, and agriculture depends on pollinators. This is a clear case where the EPA can use its power to protect the environment and support businesses.”
Many of the 118 businesses that signed the letter sell products with ingredients or inputs that are dependent on pollination from bees and other pollinators, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton) and hay (including alfalfa grown to feed livestock). The businesses call on the EPA to immediately suspend the registrations of neonicotinoids for agricultural uses, including seed treatments, as well as cosmetic and other unnecessary uses pending the results of pesticide re-evaluation. They also called for increased investments in green, fair and cutting-edge alternatives to neonicotinoids that support a prosperous and sustainable agricultural system.
Bees and other pollinators, essential for two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday, are in decline in countries around the world. In the past eight years, beekeepers have lost an average of 30 percent of their hives, a level considered economically unsustainable.
The European Union has banned several neonicotinoids, and cities and states across the U.S. and Canada including Ontario and Vancouver in Canada; Seattle, WA, Thurston County, WA; Spokane, WA; Cannon Beach, OR; and Shorewood, MN have all passed measures to restrict the use of these pesticides and protect bees. More than a dozen nurseries, landscaping companies, retailers, universities and hospital systems – including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Whole Foods – have taken steps to eliminate or restrict bee-harming pesticides.
In October 2014, the U.S. EPA released an analysis confirming that neonicotinoid seed treatments offer little or no increase in economic benefit to U.S. soybean production. In June, a meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies released by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides – a group of global, independent scientists – confirmed neonicotinoids are a key factor in bee declines and called for immediate regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids and switch to sustainable methods of food production and pest control.
Also in October 2014, the White House announced a delay in its report on pollinators ordered by President Obama as part of the memorandum issued by him this summer, calling on agencies to address steps to protect bees and critical pollinators. The EPA has indicated the report may not be released until the end of February 2015. As part of the memorandum, the EPA has indicated it is considering updating pesticide label language and restricting the application of neonicotinoid insecticides during certain times.
The full letter and the list of signers may be found here: http://www.greenamerica.org/go/business-letter-pollinators-pesticides/