Beekeepers and environmental groups sued the EPA this week for allowing pesticides that are causing an epidemic of bee deaths. The suit asks the agency to suspend the permits for certain pesticides, which have been shown to poison bees, which in turn threatens a wide array of crops dependent on bee pollination.
Pollinators, mainly bees, but also butterflies, songbirds and even bats, perform such a critical function in the food chain that their absence threatens everything from the viability of vast fields of commercial corn and other crops to the tomatoes in your garden. Without the bees and other pollinators, plants can fail to produce the fruits and seeds we eat.
Which is why a San Francisco-based group called the Pollinator Partnership has dedicated itself to the survival of pollinators — from hummingbirds to small mammals to the fragile and busiest pollinators of them all, the bees. Partnership members, along with beekeepers and researchers testified before Congress last week to lobby lawmakers for more funding to research the decline of many pollinators, particularly the loss of millions of bees around the world to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
“In the United States, drastic action is needed,” says Canadian geneticist Joe Cummins, explaining that U.S. farmers and beekeepers shouldn’t have to wait for more evidence or for an air-tight explanation for the complex syndrome, which threatens one in every third bite of food in the United States. Now most apiarists and scientists realize that pesticides are a factor in CCD, he says.
Cummins’ remarks, in an interview with GreenRightNow, come less than a month after Germany’s ban of clothianidin, a pesticide commonly used to keep insects off of corn crops. Germany banned the pesticide after heaps of dead bees were found near fields of corn coated in the pesticide, and in response to scientists who report that the insecticide severely impairs, and often kills, the honeybees that corn and other crops depend on for pollination.