Friday, May 27, 2016

Blumenauer, Conyers Lead Letter Urging EPA to Protect Pollinators & Further Examine Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Washington, DC – Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) led 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concerns regarding the agency’s assessment of the impacts of the widely used insecticide, imidacloprid, on pollinators. Imidacloprid is a type of neonicotinoid, a class of pesticides that has been linked to declining pollinator populations.

In January, EPA released its Preliminary Pollinator Assessment to Support the Registration Review of Imidacloprid, which found that imidacloprid does pose a risk to honey bees. This assessment, however, failed to address many important issues necessary to reversing pollinator losses. In their letter, the lawmakers call on EPA to further examine the impacts of imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids by evaluating: their impacts on native bee species; the risks of other stressors on honey bees in conjunction with exposure to pesticides; and the effects when multiple pesticides are used together.

“Since beekeepers began reporting massive bee die-offs more than a decade ago, the health of our nation’s honey bees and other pollinators has been a continuing source of concern,” the lawmakers wrote. “In order to meet the goals of reversing pollinator losses and restoring healthy populations laid out in this strategy, EPA must strengthen and improve the scope of its risk assessment of neonicotinoids.”

Continued decline in bee populations will have serious implications to American food production and the economy. Approximately one in three bites of food benefits from bee pollination. Pollinators provide $24 billion a year to the economy, $15 billion of which is contributed by honey bees. Many crops, including almonds, cranberries, and apples, rely almost entirely on bees and other pollinators.

Representatives Blumenauer and Conyers have long championed efforts to protect our pollinators. Last year, they reintroduced Saving America’s Pollinators Act, legislation that requires EPA to take swift action to prevent mass bee die-offs and protect the health of honey bees and other critical pollinators by suspending the use of neonicotinoids. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Administrator of the EPA, to monitor the health of native bee populations and to identify and publicly report the likely causes of bee kills.
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