I appreciated your July 26 article “Planting honeybee forage amid crops may not help much, S.D. study says.” However, I was disappointed in its title, as my take-away from the study was not that planting forage doesn’t help but rather that neonicotinoids are so widespread that they are uncontainable; they are drifting into pollinator strips and rendering them harmful to the very organisms they are intended to benefit.
This finding is alarming, to say the least. Studies have shown that neonicotinoids, which are 6,000 times more toxic than DDT, are a key contributor to bee decline. They can kill off bees directly in addition to disorienting them and making it harder for them to pollinate and find their way back to their hives. It is highly upsetting that neonicotinoids have become so widely and indiscriminately used that even organic sites are poisoned through drift – frighteningly, it seems there is nowhere safe left for bees in our increasingly toxic world.
We must keep planting habitat because pollinators need it, but it has become clear that unless we do something about neonicotinoid use, we will be hurting them instead of helping. Therefore, we must follow the example of the European Union and parts of Canada and eliminate the use of these toxic pesticides before it’s too late.
Fortunately, right now, we have a great opportunity to do so. The EPA is currently reviewing neonicotinoids, which won’t happen again for 15 years, so we must call on it to speed up its testing and eventually ban these dangerous chemicals altogether. Failure to ban these bee-killing pesticides will have disastrous effects. After all, bees help pollinate nearly one in every three bites of food we eat — so no bees means no food.
Cashen Conroy works with Environment Minnesota.
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