Original Article in 4 Million People Just Told Obama to Save the Bees—Now by Taylor Hill
Conservationists, beekeepers, farmers, and ordinary citizens are demanding a ban on pesticides implicated in the die-off of pollinators.
Billions of bees have died in recent years, and now more than 4 million people have called on President Obama to ban neonicotinoid pesticides linked to the mass die-off of insects that pollinate a third of the world’s food supply.
Conservationists presented the petition to the White House Wednesday in advance of a report from a presidential task force that will make recommendations later this month on how to avoid the further collapse of honeybee populations. The coalition of 125 groups—including 11 of the nation’s top environmental organizations—gathered the signatures in an effort to keep pressure on the administration to take action.
“We’re urging President Obama to take meaningful action on neonicotinoids, which are devastating bee populations,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director at the Center for Food Safety. “These systemic insecticides are also threatening the nation’s food supply.”
The presentation of the petition was timed with the reintroduction in Congress of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which would suspend the use of four of the most toxic neonicotinoids until the United States Environmental Protection Agency conducts a full review of their safety.
“The EPA plans to wait until 2018 before reviewing the registration of neonicotinoids,” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement. “But America’s bees cannot wait three more years. Neither can the thousands of farmers that rely on pollinators. Our honeybees are critical to ecological sustainability and to our economy.”
Paul Towers at the Pesticide Action Network said he is hopeful about yet wary of the presidential bee panel’s forthcoming recommendations. “If officials choose to put forth unenforceable, voluntary, or advisory practices, defer responsibility to state agencies through weak pollinator plans, or create weak changes to pesticide labels, they will have failed to address the problem of dramatic bee declines,” Towers said. “Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force has the opportunity to heed the call of farmers and beekeepers and create a strong and enforceable plan of action, addressing not only acute bee kills but also broader bee declines.”