"Busy as a bee" is a familiar attribute. Unfortunately, the fate of those industrious insects may hinge on the success of a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the very agency that is suppose to protect the environment.
The suit to protect the honeybee was filed in Federal District Court yesterday by four beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups against the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the Center for Food Safety (CFS) “The coalition represented by attorneys for the CFS, seeks suspension of the registrations of insecticides that have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder.”
The pesticides that the CFS claims are responsible are clothianidin and thiamethoxam. These are a newer class of insecticides and absorbed by plants throughout their systems making the plant toxic to insects
“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production. It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.”
This recent almond growing season reinforces Ellis’s point. Almonds are one of the many crops growers depend upon bees to pollinate
According to the CFS “Many beekeepers are reporting losses of over 50% this year and the shortages have left many California almond growers without enough bees to effectively pollinate their trees. This is a vivid demonstration of why the Plaintiffs are demanding EPA to classify these bee-toxic pesticides as an “imminent hazard” and move swiftly to restrict their use.
Independent scientists have assessed the effects of clothianidin and thiamethoxam on honey bee colony health and development, examining both sub-lethal exposure effects and acute risks. Scientists have also identified massive data gaps that prevent accurate assessments as to their continued safety, not just for honey bees but for ecosystem integrity on the whole. A major new report issued this week by the American Bird Conservancy, The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds, sounds dire warnings about EPA’s failures to assess threats to birds and to the aquatic ecosystems many species depend upon.
Honeybees are not native to North America and there are many other insects that can and do pollinate plants. In addition many food plants such as corn, and root crops don’t require pollination by insects so a total collapse in the food supply would not occur if the honey bee population was eradicated.
However, many vegetables, fruits and other foods including sweet and wholesome honey would disappear from store shelves. A more worrisome question is could the demise of the honey bee be the harbinger for worse things yet to come as far as animals and the ecosystem are concerned?
Keith Sanderson is the creator and host of Pet Life Radio's Max A Pooch's Awesome Animal Advocates. He also writes Celebrity Animal Advocacy, and is the human companion of Max A Pooch and writes an animal advocacy blog for Pet Life Radio