Stop the Looming Bee Apocalypse

Target: Han Changfu, China’s Minister of Agriculture

Goal: Reduce the use of neonicotinoids, which cause a decline of bee populations and negatively impact agriculture.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticide that have been found to decimate bee populations in areas where they are used. More specifically, neonicotinoids have been implicated in honey-bee and bumble-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which bees disappear from their colonies en masse, leaving behind what’s essentially an empty and doomed hive.

Evidence continues to mount that neonicotinoids are dangerous to bees, and are a very likely contributor to the decline of pollinator species in many parts of the world. In 2014, a Harvard School of Public Health study strengthened the connection between neonicotinoids and CCD. In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a statement that imidacloprid, perhaps the most commonly-used neonicotinoid, “potentially poses a risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.” Two separate studies, one published by the Royal Society of London and the other published in the journal Nature, found evidence that “populations of butterflies and wild bees have declined in association with increased neonicotinoid use.”

Bees pollinate about one third of all the food crops humans eat, rendering a service worth an excess of $150 billion worldwide each year. This is especially important in China, a country which grows a large proportion of all the food the world eats, being the second-most productive country in terms of food after the United States.

While regulations have been placed on the use of neonicotinoids in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, China, despite the vital importance of its agriculture to civilization itself, has taken few, if any, steps to restrict or possibly replace neonicotinoids.

Europe’s Pesticide Action Network and the European Food Safety Authority have acknowledged that there are both chemical and non-chemical alternatives to neonicotinoids. And, while many of these are not foolproof in terms of their ability to remove pests as effectively as many popular neonicotinoids, reducing the overall use of neonicotinoids and funding research to find more ecologically-friendly alternatives could do a lot of good for both bees and the people they feed.


Dear Minister Changfu,

Following the lead of the world’s foremost supplier of food, the United States, as well as Canada and a number of European countries, we believe that China should restrict its use of neonicotinoids, which have been implicated on numerous occasions as having negative effects on pollinator populations — perhaps most worryingly bees, whether wild or domesticated — including being one of the primary culprits in causing the devastating colony collapse disorder (CCD).

There are acknowledged alternatives to neonicotinoids, and, while many of these may not be as potent as the former in terms of pest-removing potential, reducing the overall reliance on neonicotinoids by farmers could be immensely helpful.

This could be engendered by making a portfolio of neonicotinoid alternatives available to farmers, or honing in on where and when, and on which crops, to apply neonicotinoids as part of a targeted agricultural management program — whether national or international. Supporting research into novel types of pesticide that have a lessened impact on pollinators would also be of immense benefit.

Bees pollinate about one third of all the food crops humans eat, rendering a service worth an excess of $150 billion worldwide each year. China, being the second-largest producer of food in the world, should thus recognize these insects’ importance, and take the lead in reducing the use of this harmful class of insecticide on its farms.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jack Hynes

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  1. We need the bees to balance out everything living in the world!


  3. michelle taylor says:

    Back off and leave the bees alone! Bees are essential.

  4. Why is it so difficult to understand that Bees are the stronghold of all food production on Earth? This is very basic knowledge!
    No plant life = no animal life, no plant life, no humans. Nature does very well without humans but not vice versa. Perhaps in the long run, our planet is better off without its deadly virus: people!

  5. Qno bees no food no us

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