Let's give bees a chance

In recent years, beekeepers report they’re losing on average 30% of all honeybee colonies each winter — twice the loss considered economically tolerable.

Image: Qypchak/ Wikimedia Creative Commons

We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of most of the world’s food. Imagine no almonds, fewer apples and strawberries, less alfalfa to feed dairy cows, and the list goes on.

Image: Flickr User: Fried Dough - Creative Commons

6,000 times more toxic than DDT

Scientists point to several causes behind the problem, including global warming, habitat loss, parasites and a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics).

When seeds are treated with neonics, the chemicals work their way into the pollen and nectar of the plants — which, of course, is bad news for bees and other pollinators. Worse, for the bees and for us, neonics are about 6,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.

Just one example: After a nearby farm planted corn seeds coated with neonics in 2013, a farmer named Dave Schuit lost 37 million of his bees. “Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” said Schuit.

Image: Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative Commons

We're up against big agrichemical companies

Given the consequences for our farms and our food, you’d think we’d be doing all we can to protect bees and other pollinators from threats like neonics.  

Instead, big agrichemical companies like Dow Chemical, Bayer and Syngenta are fighting to prevent bans. And Syngenta has asked federal regulators for permission to use even larger quantities of these pesticides — as much as 400 times more than currently allowed. 

Some governments aren’t letting the big chemical companies push them around. Alarmed by the role these chemicals are playing in bee colony collapse disorder, the European Union has banned several of them; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to phasing them out on the public lands they manage; and Seattle, Minnesota and Oregon have all agreed to take some form of action against neonics. 

Some companies are taking action as well. Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club have taken steps to limit plants treated with neonics, label the plants or both. More than 100 businesses sent a letter to the White House urging the Obama administration to do more to protect bees and other pollinators against toxic pesticides. And we’ll continue to urge other retailers to phase out neonics and do more to warn gardeners and other customers.

In order to restore bee populations to health, however, we need the EPA to step up and lead. 

Image: Justin Leonard / Flickr User-Creative Commons

Together, we can give bees a chance 

Right now, we’re letting big agrichemical companies use more of the chemicals that are known to kill bees just as we’re in the midst of an unsustainable die-off in bee populations. That has to change. Now.

Join us in calling on the EPA to declare a nationwide moratorium on the use of bee-killing neonics.

 

Issue updates

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Today, Environment Texas released Our Great Waters, a new report that outlines the regional, environmental, and economic significance of eight of America’s most treasured waterways. Because of its ecological significance, Environment Texas has named the Gulf of Mexico as one of America’s “Great Waters.” This report lays out the specific problems facing each of the eight water bodies and proposed legislative fixes. The release of this report comes a week before a key vote in the Environment and Public Works committee in the U.S. Senate.

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News Release | Environment Texas

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TexPIRG's report, Toxic Releases and Health: A Review of Pollution Data and Current Knowledge on the Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals, is a first ever analysis by health effect of air and water releases reported by industry to the Toxic Release Inventory Program from 1987 to 2000. The review of these data demonstrates the degree to which toxic substances with links to serious health problems are released into the environment.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Texas Ranked 1st Nationwide in Toxic Pollution Linked to Cancer and Neurological Problems

Texas ranked 1st for pollution linked to cancer and neurological problems in the country according to a new report released today by TexPIRG. In Nueces County 437,450 pounds of toxic chemicals linked to cancer were released in 2000, the most recent year for which data have been collected. Since 1987, toxic pollution linked to serious health effects has shifted from the traditionally industrial northeast and midwest to the south and southeast.

TexPIRG's report, Toxic Releases and Health: A Review of Pollution Data and Current Knowledge on the Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals, is a first ever analysis by health effect of air and water releases reported by industry to the Toxic Release Inventory Program from 1987 to 2000. The review of these data demonstrates the degree to which toxic substances with links to serious health problems are released into the environment.

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