Unprecedented bee declines threaten Thanksgiving dinner

Media Releases

Environment America

Boston, Ma. –   Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole are among the Thanksgiving dinner staples at risk if bee colonies continue to collapse at unprecedented rates, Environment America warns.

Bees pollinate most of the world’s most common crops, including seasonal favorites such as carrots, brussel sprouts, and pie fillings from blueberry to apple. But the U.S. is losing about a third of its bee colonies each year, alarming beekeepers, farmers and chefs along with environmental advocates.

“One in three bites of the foods we love are pollinated by bees,” said Margie Alt, Environment America executive director. “If we don’t save the bees, our favorite Thanksgiving meals will be a lot less delicious.”

Scientists point to the increased use of and exposure to a class of pesticides known as neonics as a major cause of the recent increase in bee deaths, which have brought the U.S. population of the pollinators to historic lows.

Sharing the same chemical properties as nicotine, neonics are neurotoxins that can kill bees off directly. They can disorient them and make it harder for them to pollinate plants and get back to their hives.

Numerous lab studies have shown neonics to pose dangers to bees, and this week the journal Nature published the first study to establish a direct causal link between neonic exposure and bees’ ability to do their job as pollinators.

Major garden retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot are phasing out sales of the chemicals, and some cities across the U.S. are moving to ban the use of neonics as well.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new plan last spring to stem the loss of pollinators, but it fell far short on limiting neonic exposure to bees. Environment America is calling on EPA to act quickly to establish a moratorium on the use of the dangerous class of pesticides.

“The science is clear,” said Alt, “and the time for action is now. We need to save the foods we love all year long and our Thanksgiving favorites – especially the cranberry-ginger chutney I make every year for my family.”