While groups pressure EPA on neonics, beekeepers know there’s more to the problem

A group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, submitted a letter to EPA urging them step up their review process of neonicotinoid insecticides and take significant and immediate steps to limit their use. A week letter, 60 Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Congressmen Blumenauer (D-OR) and Conyers (D-FL), co-sponsors of legislation (H.R. 2692) that would effectively put a temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, sent a similar letter to EPA, which included a call to suspend use on “ornamentals.”

These messages followed a House briefing on the topic of neonicotinoids and bee impacts, hosted by Rep. Blumenauer. The briefing brought in some of the same NGOs that co-authored the EPA letter, suggesting a coordinated messaging effort by the NGOs and the co-signers of the congressional letter to EPA.

Unfortunately, in the hearing and in the letters to EPA there was little to no attention paid to the broad and complex challenges beekeepers face, and no beekeeper was included as a witness. According to Randy Oliver, a commercial beekeeper and blogger/owner of www.ScientificBeekeeping.com, the issue of bee health has been hijacked by the activist groups, trying to put the sole blame of bee health concerns on pesticides. These groups’ stance is not reflective of what he is seeing or hearing from other beekeepers around the country.

Our industry has an opportunity to partner with beekeepers and identify practices that allow our growers to respond to the pest challenges we face while supporting pollinator health. Through increases in forage and habitat for bees, as well as good stewardship as to when and how we use insecticides, we can be part of the solution. We encourage you to visit the AmericanHort website and watch the video presentation to learn more about this topic and our Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. 

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