Environment Texas Delivers Over 12,000 Petitions Urging State Legislature to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

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Emma Pabst

Calls for Interim Hearings on Threat to Bees

Environment Texas

AUSTIN – Today, Environment Texas delivered over 12,000 petitions to the State legislature urging them to pass a statewide ban on bee-killing pesticides known as neonicotinoids. This act is part of a national effort to save bee colonies from dying off. Environment Texas was joined by Erika Thompson, a local beekeeper from Texas Bee Works.

“A world without bees would mean a world without apples, almonds, cherries, chocolate and coffee,” said Laura Rybicki, Canvass Director with Environment Texas. “We’re so grateful that people from all over Texas have offered enthusiastic support for this campaign and joined our call for a statewide ban on bee-killing pesticides.”

The petition seeks to ban neonicotinoids (neonics). These pesticides behave as a neurotoxin to bees, leading to devastating results. Last month, U.S. beekeepers reported the greatest hive loss in 13 years, with a loss of nearly 40 percent of all honeybee colonies last winter — nearly 3 times the sustainable rate. Bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides are one of the biggest contributors to this destruction, and are sold to consumers and are used indiscriminately to pretreat seeds regardless of whether or not there is an insect problem. In 2018, Texas used approximately 350,000 pounds of neonicotinoids on agricultural land.

Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 most essential crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food. They also pollinate the trees that produce oxygen and housing materials, plants that are used to make pharmaceutical medicines, and the natural products that we use in so much of our material goods. 

“Bees are the lifeblood of our wildflowers: the Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and Buttercups, that spring up along our highways in March and April,” said Harrison Crowl, Canvass Director with Environment Texas. “They give us our famous prickly pears, the watermelon we eat on hot summer days, and they pollinate the alfalfa that we feed our dairy cows — one of the largest industries in Texas.”

The group wants the Legislature to follow the lead of Home Depot, Lowe’s, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the cities of Austin and College Station, and many others in stopping the use of neonicotinoids. The group’s partner organizations, Environment Maryland and Environment Connecticut, have already helped pass statewide bans on neonicotinoids in Maryland and Connecticut.

Environment Texas called on the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker to hold interim hearings investigating the threat to bees. In addition, they encouraged County Commissioners and City Council members to pass local bans on neonicotinoids in order to prevent further damage to pollinator populations.

This summer, Environment Texas has knocked on over 65,000 doors in and around Austin, generating support for this statewide ban on neonicotinoids. Along with partners in 15 states, the organizations will knock on nearly 1,000,000 doors, have 330,000 conversations with citizens and generate 110,000 petitions in support of that initiative.