Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reps. Conyers and Blumenauer Introduce Legislation Protecting Pollinators and America’s Food System

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015,  which requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend the use of certain insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, until the agency can review the registration and declare that such insecticides do not cause adverse effects upon honey bees and other pollinators.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
The EPA plans to wait until 2018 before reviewing the registration of neonicotinoids.  But America’s bees cannot wait three more years.  Neither can the thousands of farmers that rely on pollinators.  Our honeybees are critical to ecological sustainability and to our economy.  Scientists have reported that common symptoms of the decline of honey bees and other pollinators are attributed to the use of a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids,” said Rep. Conyers.  “The ‘Saving America’s Pollinators Act’ will address this threat to pollinator populations by suspending the use of certain neonicotinoids and by requiring the EPA to immediately conduct a full review of the scientific evidence before allowing the entry of other neonicotinoids into the market.”

Neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinator species, are considered a major contributing factor to population declines. Academic studies and European regulators have concluded that pesticides identified as neonictinoids are linked to bee declines, both alone and in combination with other factors like disease and malnutrition. 

Added Rep. Conyers, “I urge all of my colleagues to please protect our pollinators and support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.  One of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by honey bees.  These crops include apples, avocados, cranberries, cherries, broccoli, peaches, carrots, grapes, soybeans, sugar beets and onions.  Unfortunately, unless swift action is taken, these crops, and numerous others, will soon disappear due to the dramatic decline of honey bee populations throughout the country.”

The Saving America’s Pollinators Act directs the EPA Administrator to suspend the registration of certain neonicotinoids – such as imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotafuran – and any other members of the nitro group of neonicotinoid insecticides until a determination has been made that such insecticides will not cause adverse effects on pollinators based on an evaluation of peer-review scientific evidence and a completed field study. 

The bill also requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the EPA Administrator, to regularly monitor the health and population status of native bees and identify the scope and likely causes of unusual native bee mortality.  

“Pollinators are not only vital to a sustainable environment, but key to a stable food supply.  In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by bees.  It is imperative that we take a step back to make sure we understand all the factors involved in bee population decline and move swiftly to protect our pollinators,” said Rep. Blumenauer.

The Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015 has been endorsed by the American Bird Conservancy, Avaaz, Bat World Sanctuary, Inc., Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, Ecological Farming Association, Equal Exchange, Family Farm Defenders, Friends of the Earth, Food Democracy Now!, Food and Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, National Co+op Grocers, National Organic Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northeast, Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Northeast Organic Farming Association - Interstate Council, Northeast, Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Maine, Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Farmers' Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., Organization for Bat Conservation, Oregon Tilth, Pesticide Action Network North America, Sierra Club, United Natural Foods Inc., Toxic Free North Carolina, and International Association for Human Values.
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