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.

 

Issue updates

Report | Environment America

Safer by Design

The widespread use of toxic chemicals – in everything from industrial plants to baby bottles – is threatening our health and environment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Leading American businesses are showing that they can reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, keeping them out of our air, water, land and food. Through innovation, businesses can design manufacturing processes and products to be safe, following the principles of green chemistry.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

Natalie Portman and Scientist Mothers Call on EPA to Protect Public Health and Set Strong Limits on Pollution

Over the next two months, the Environmental Protection Agency will draft new rules limiting mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants and large industrial facilities. Mothers from two professions – acting and science – are joining Environment America and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to urge the agency to set the strongest possible standards to protect public health. Today, Natalie Portman and six scientists—who have expertise in a range of disciplines related to climate science and environmental health—released a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson – also the mother of two boys -- asking her to support stringent standards for limiting mercury pollution.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

New Report: Mercury Pollution from Power Plants a Major Threat to Americans’ Health, Environment

Power plants in America emitted 134, 365 pounds of mercury pollution in 2009, according to the new Environment America report, Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury. The report found that power plants in just four states—Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia—are responsible for over 35 percent of all mercury pollution from power plants in the United States. The report comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment America

Dirty Energy's Assault on Our Health: Mercury

Our dependence on oil and coal-fired power plants has broad detrimental impacts on our health and our environment. Power plants represent America’s single biggest source of air pollution, affecting our waterways, destroying ecosystems, and polluting the air we breathe.  Pollution from coal-fired power plants in particular contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

Action Urged to Protect Children’s Health from Toxic Chemicals

Today at The University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, Senator Frank Lautenberg was joined by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and other environmental health experts to examine the impact of toxic chemicals on children’s health.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed