With Colony Collapse Disorder decreasing the U.S. bee population by 30 percent since 2006, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today called to expedite the review of pesticides that could be inadvertently decimating honey bee populations. Honey bees are vital to the health of agricultural industries in New York as one in three bites of food is reliant on honey bee pollination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not expected to complete their review until 2018. Senator Gillibrand urged a quicker timeframe, asking that it be completed by the end of next year.
"Our agriculture industry is vital to the upstate New York's economy," Senator Gillibrand said. "Our farmers need honey bees to pollinate our crops and produce. However, certain pesticides may be unintentionally killing off the honey bee population. By expediting this review, we can help save our honey bee population and grow our agricultural economies."
The EPA is currently reviewing neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide that could be toxic to honey bees and other pollinators in high or chronic doses. Research has shown that neonicotinoids can cause disruptions in mobility, navigation, feeding, foraging, memory, learning and overall hive activity, all functions that are vital to the survival of the honey bee. This would have the potential to negatively impact almond, bluberry, pumpkin, apple and cherry crops; crops that are crucial to the economy of New York farmers. New York State has already begun to discontinue use of neonicotinoids. After reviewing the pesticides, the EPA would make any warranted regulatory changes to better protect the nation's honey bees from harmful pesticides.
In her letter to EPA Administrator Shelia Jackson, Senator Gillibrand wrote, "Protecting honey bees and other pollinators is vital to American agriculture. In fact, one in three bites of food is reliant on honey bee pollination, and threats to pollinators concern the entire food system and could drive up the cost of food in this country. Highlighting the economic importance of pollinators, a recent study by Cornell University found that insect pollination results in a value of more than $15 billion annually."