EPA releases statement regarding efficacy of Neonicotinoid seed treatments 

Good news for the bees and other pollinators! December 2014Neonicotinoid seed treatments have been under review for some time, due to their adverse effects on pollinators and their use as a method of insect control among US grown soybeans. The EPA recently released a preliminary statement regarding neonicotinoid seed treatments: that these treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations”, and are harmful to bees and other pollinators. Growing bodies of evidence point to these treatments as a cause in the decline of pollinator populations. The EPA has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state agencies, nonprofits and international groups on pollinator protection issues, and has released guidelines for pollinator risk assessment guidelines.

Link here: http://www2.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/benefits-neonicotinoid-seed-treatments-soybean-production [Refer to PDF for complete review]

White House announces "Pollinator Task Force" 

June 2014 Honey bees and other pollinators are absolutely crucial to our food system and the health of our biodiverse ecosystem. Recognizing their importance, as well as the severity of strain placed on them by our current agricultural system, the White House recently established the Pollinator Health Task Force [June of 2014], in order to protect and restore domestic populations of honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies. From the White House website [Presidential Memorandum found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/presidential-memorandum-creating-federal-strategy-promote-health-honey-b]: Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.

Pollinator losses have been severe. The number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest recorded population level in 2013-14, and there is an imminent risk of failed migration. The continued loss of commercial honey bee colonies poses a threat to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States, which could have profound implications for agriculture and food. Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover. The loss of native bees, which also play a key role in pollination of crops, is much less studied, but many native bee species are believed to be in decline. Scientists believe that bee losses are likely caused by a combination of stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides.

Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement.

The committee will concentrate its efforts in a public education campaign, as well require  federal agencies to lead by example and expand pollinator habitats on federal lands. Additionally, the Department of the Interior and the USDA joined 45 states in a public acknowledgement of the essential nature of pollinators. The EPA released recent guidance regarding pesticides and the threats they pose to bees, and the USDA announced an initiative to fund farmers and ranchers who work to enhance and establish new pollinator habitats on their agricultural lands.

For more information, click here http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/06/20/new-steps-protect-pollinators-critical-contributors-our-nation-s-economy