Buzz Off: EPA Denies Beekeeper Pesticide Petition

Honeybees have it rough these days.  The climate is changing, adding all sorts of weather-related stress and pollen producing challenges, and increasing numbers of bees are being shipped farther and farther for large-scale industrial agricultural pollination as local colonies struggle. Add to this Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and we have ourselves a serious problem.

If you aren’t familiar with CCD or haven’t yet seen Vanishing of the Bees, let me bring you up to speed: honeybees are more than just buzzing insects that land on flowers and produce honey for you to enjoy in your tea; bees are the critical link between us and our food.  In fact, without bees, “two-thirds of our natural crops would not be propagated.”  This is bad news for anyone who needs food to survive, which constitutes, well, pretty much everyone on Earth.

In light of the continued and growing concern for bee population health and stability, a number of beekeepers and environmental groups from around the U.S. came together this past March to petition the EPA to cease sales of clothianidin, a neonicotinoids (neonics) class of pesticides that is suspected of being harmful to honeybees.  The EPA rejected the petition due to failure to demonstrate a case for “imminent harm,” or harm that will occur “within the one to two years necessary to complete cancellation proceedings.” The agency also downplayed the science connecting clothianidin to bee decline, acknowledging that the chemical effects bees but not on a widespread scale.

It’s important to note that this EPA ruling is based off of low numbers of reported incidents related to clothianidin. Also be aware that clothianidin isn’t the only pesticide on the market being used today; mega companies like Bayer, the manufacturer of clothianidin, Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, Syngenta and BASF have numerous pesticides at their disposal and a powerful lobbying operation in place to ensure their agricultural chemicals remain in use.

Adding complication to the matter is the fact that pesticides may not be the only CCD culprit: viruses, mites, pathogens and habitat loss could also play a role, yet the likelihood of such massive, systematic and consistent colony collapse reeks of a broader-reaching agent.  One has to also wonder about the relationship between government regulatory agencies and corporations.  For example, a leaked memo in 2010 revealed that both EPA scientists and independent scientists determined that an earlier Bayer study researching clothianidin’s impact on pollinators was inadequate, yet the pesticide remains on the market today.

Losing honeybees at such an alarming rate is a very serious economic and environmental concern that deserves much more regulatory and public attention.  Most of us buy our food from our local grocery store and don’t think about the greater connection between the pollinators and our apple, yet it’s a direct and critical relationship.  One way you can combat CCD and the chemical lobby is to buy local, organic produce and support your local organic farmers. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can set up beehives in your yard (or on your back porch if your neighbors don’t mind), but check first with your town or city as some areas have specific beekeeping ordinances.

There are always immediate ways you can do your part to combat the heavily saturated chemical world we’re all exposed to, although more and more we find chemicals laced in practically everything, from baby bottles to the air we breathe.  Clearly, the fight for a healthier planet and food future continues.  Now, wouldn’t it be nice if the EPA got onboard?

Related Stories:

France Moves to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

Common Pesticide Make Honey Bees Picky Eaters

Research Firm Blames Monsanto for Bee Deaths…So Monsanto Buys It

Photo Credit: Fifamed

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Ruth R.
Ruth R.3 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Ana R2 years ago

well said Lil S.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson2 years ago


Adele West-Reiswig

1st, to vote For the bees, a person has to wade through a double negative, which will confuse some people. 2nd, go after the chemical companies, don't let them sidetrack you with proving which product is at fault, go after the Class of Chemicals that they are made from. The differences are only for obfuscation.

Gabriella Bertelmann

Over 20 years we have made no progress in the quest to save the honeybees. Can we really not do anything about this? I know the problem is Monsanto and the industry (s. Food Inc.) but, for God's sake, can we really cry about this for so long and get nothing done? That is really sad, and most alarming! Are there no more petitions out there? What will it take? count me in!W

Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason2 years ago

Shelley S. Said:
"The ONLY reason for this is the influence of the corporations, primarily Monsanto, that run the EPA and the rest of the government."

So mosanto buys a company that was investigating CCD and hence now controls the resaerch info.

(NaturalNews) Amid all the controversy over genetically-modified (GM) crops and their pesticides and herbicides decimating bee populations all around the world, biotechnology behemoth Monsanto has decided to buy out one of the major international firms devoted to studying and protecting bees. According to a company announcement, Beeologics handed over the reins to Monsanto back on September 28, 2011, which means the gene-manipulating giant will now be able to control the flow of information and products coming from Beeologics for colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Learn more:

I just love Monsanto! Welcome to corporate America,

Stephanie A.
Stevie A.2 years ago

Tara, thank you for the article. Vee, thank you for the poem. California still hopes to be the first state to ban GMO's. We lost the referendum YES on 37 in Nov AND we got a super-majority of Democrats in the State House. In fact, it is TRUE that Regulatory Agencies and Chemical Companies EXCHANGE personnel quite frequently. Goddess Bless the Bees!

Annette H.
Annette H.3 years ago

Wow that poll was whacked. It could be answered either yes or no, and still be construed to mean that the EPA should not have rejected the petition. Blah. Just more proof that the EPA is in the back pocket of the greedy 1% and their companies, to support whatever evil but highly profitable product they happen to make. More Blah.

P B.
P B.3 years ago

The big ag chemical producers clutch their pearls that crops would be DECIMATED by every form of destructive insect if big ag farmers weren't allowed to use their poisons, oops!, insect control agents.

So how can organic farmers produce crops without these Most Blessed chemicals? The answer is simple, the soil. Healthy soil = healthy plants. Big ag farmers don't rotate crops to promote soil health, they simply add chemicals. Those chemicals become part of the plants/food. We're hitting a tipping point: chemical adulteration and topical use are killing off our bees, creating franken-weeds and insects, and probably responsible for many inexplicable human genetic conditions and diseases. Is it my imagination or can you trace the introduction of genetically modified "franken food" with the new prevalence of autism? Insecticides are neuro-toxins. Insecticides are now part of the actual genes in GMO plants. A pregnant woman eating GMO-laden foods and drinking aspartame may well be causing her developing fetus irreparable harm unwittingly because she's eating "safe" food thanks to the lobbyists who work hard to keep everyone believing it.

Sandra Lane
Sandra Lane3 years ago

I am shocked at how few people I know understand the importance of bees to the planet. I have always had an affinity with bees, so of course I read whatever I can find that relates to them. They are the perfect society. Oh, what people could learn...