Target: Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture
Goal: Ensure that the role of pesticides are taken into account when developing a management policy for stabilizing honey bee colonies
Recently, a public hearing was held to review current research and application of management strategies to control pests and diseases of pollinators. It has been more than a year since the topic was last addressed in a Congressional hearing. According to the Center for Food Safety, the panelists and committee members refused to seriously address the negative impact of pesticides on bees and did not invite the commercial beekeeping industry to participate. Urge Rep. Austin Scott, who chaired the hearing, to stop allowing the influential pesticide lobby to dictate how bee colonies are managed.
Approximately one third of global food production is dependent on animal pollination for reproduction, and managed honey bees are the most important pollinators of those crops. Over the past several years, beekeepers have experienced significant losses due to colony collapse, and there has been a thirty percent decline in honey bee populations in the U.S over the past two decades.
According to Rep. Scott, the precise reason for the Colony Collapse Disorder is not yet known but a leading cause appears to be the varroa mite pest. Honey bees are affected by a number of pests and diseases including mites, viruses, bacterial infections and fungal diseases. A representative from Bayer CropScience, a leading manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, was invited to give testimony. Some witnesses briefly addressed the improper use of pesticides, but they failed to go into detail and did not touch on the wealth of data about the subject that is readily available. Neonicotinoids have been show to weaken the immune systems of bees, which in turn exacerbates the other stressors the witnesses cited, such as the varroa mite and viruses.
Urge Rep. Scott to stop allowing the pesticide lobby to influence members of Congress and demand that the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture seriously consider the role of pesticides in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Dear Rep. Scott,
I am glad to learn that a Congressional hearing was recently held to address the management of pollinators. However, the committee failed to seriously consider pesticides as a contributing factor to honey bee colony collapse disorder. No one from the commercial beekeeping industry was invited to give testimony, yet a representative from a leading manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides received a place at the witness table.
New research has shown that farmers do not substantially benefit from the use of neonicotinoids as seed treatments, which are applied to the vast majority of commercial corn and soybean seed. The European Union has already taken proactive steps to curtail the use of neonicotinoids, based on scientific data showing how these chemicals harm bees.
The influential pesticide lobby in Washington D.C. is currently dictating how we manage pollinators. Do not allow companies that are only concerned with profit to control this critical component of our overall food supply.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Maciej Czyzewski via Wikimedia Commons