A letter about bees from Rep. DeFazio:
Thank you for contacting me in support of efforts to save pollinators. I appreciate hearing from you. We are in complete agreement. You will be pleased to know that I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1284, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015.
This bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides until EPA determines that those insecticides will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on pollinators. H.R. 1284 would also direct EPA and the Department of the Interior to regularly monitor the health and population status of native bees and identify the scope and likely causes of unusual native bee mortality.
In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Oregon as a direct result of exposure to a neonicotinoid applied to Linden trees for cosmetic purposes. Scientists have linked the use of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides to the rapid decline of pollinators and to the deterioration of pollinator health. Recent science has demonstrated that a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid is toxic enough to kill a songbird.
Responding to the high bee mortality, in 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to take additional steps to protect pollinators. The memorandum charges the USDA Secretary and EPA Administrator to co-chair the newly created Pollinator Health Task Force. The task force developed a National Pollinators Health Strategy to give specific guidance on addressing the adverse health of our nation’s bees and other pollinators.
Pollination services are a vital part of agricultural production. These services are valued at over $125 billion globally and worth $20 billion to $30 billion in agricultural production annually in the United States. One third of food produced in North America depends on pollination by honey bees, including nearly 95 varieties of fruits such as almonds, avocados, cranberries, and apples.
Unfortunately, over the past several years, documented incidents of colony collapse disorder have been at a record high, with some beekeepers repeatedly losing 100 percent of their operations. According to scientists at the Department of Agriculture, current estimates of the survivorship of honey bee colonies show they are too low to be able to meet the pollination demands of United States agricultural crops.
You can be sure I will do what I can to conduct oversight on the use of pesticides and their impacts on various species and human health. Thanks again for contacting me, and please continue to stay in touch.