United States bee populations are in a nationwide free fall -- and this could spell the end of fruits and vegetables grown on our soil.
Not only has the US experienced widespread honeybee deaths and disappearances, called "Colony Collapse Disorder," we have also seen a dramatic decrease in the wild bee population. Massive and continuing declines in the bee population means our food supply and our economy are in jeopardy.
As a third generation backyard gardener who is passing the gift of growing food on to my own children, I've witnessed the decline in bees first hand. In order to draw more bees to our garden, my kids and I surround our vegetable beds with wildflowers, and we never use chemicals in our garden or lawn. My family is doing everything we can to help our local bees survive, but the chemical giant Bayer Corporation is working against us. And the EPA has yet to stop them.
In the past several months, three separate studies have added substantial weight to the growing body of evidence showing that widespread use of nicotine-based insecticides called neonicotinoids is linked to Colony Collapse Disorder. When exposed to these nerve-agents, bees get lost -- they are literally unable to find their way back home to their hive and drop dead from exhaustion. One study found that colonies exposed to neonicotinoids produced 85 percent fewer queens, meaning the creation of 85 percent fewer hives. United States Department of Agriculture bee expert Jeffery Pettis rightly calls the findings â€œalarming.â€
Bayer markets its neonicotinoids widely to growers of corn, soy, wheat, cotton, sorghum, peanuts, and other crops. Research by the Pesticide Action Network of North America showed that a minimum of 142 million acres were planted in neonic-treated seeds in the year 2010. 142 million acres is equivalent to the size of California and Oregon combined! And that number is likely to be even higher this year. On top of that, neonics are widely used in home garden and landscaping products.
EPA registration of Bayer's neonicotinoids was primarily based on a study funded by the Bayer Corporation itself, and that study has been discredited by the EPA's own scientists.
The EPA must act now to ban the sale of Bayer's neoniconitoid products. When the bees suffer, we all suffer. We must do everything possible to protect this essential pollinator. Our bees, and the plants that depend on them, can't wait.