On Tuesday, July 16, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) introduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013, which aims to reverse steep declines in bee populations by temporarily suspending the use of certain pesticides.
According to Rep. Blumenauer’s press release, the bill “suspends certain uses of neonicotinoids, a particular type of pesticide that is suspected to play a role in the bee die-offs happening in Oregon and in bee declines around the world, until the Environmental Protection Agency reviews these chemicals and makes a new determination about their proper application and safe use.”
In June of this year, more than 50,000 bumble bees died after being exposed to a neonicotinoid pesticide in Oregon. “The mass poisoning is the largest event of its kind ever documented, with an estimated impact on more than 300 wild bumble bee colonies,” the Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation noted following the mass die off. “According to Oregon Department of Agriculture, the poisoning occurred after an insecticide was sprayed on linden trees to control aphids, which secrete a sticky residue while feeding, making them a nuisance to parked cars.”
Rep. Conyers noted in his press release that “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.”
In addition to suspending the use of neonicotinoids, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior to monitor the health and status of native bee population.
Earlier this year, the European Commission restricted the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides in seed treatment and soil and foliar applications on plants that are attractive to bees. The ban goes into effect in member countries later this year, with a further scientific review of the impact of suspension due within two years of it taking effect.
For more information on the new proposed US legislation, Rep. Blumenauer’s office has developed a one pager on the bill.