Honeybees and other pollinators, which are the backbone of our food system, are rapidly declining due to several factors. A growing body of scientific research has implicated the widespread use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids (also called "neonics"), as a fundamental contributor to pollinator declines.
Neonics are insecticides that are persistent, systemic, and potentially addictive to pollinators. They are largely applied to plants and seeds to prevent insects from eating them. These water soluble pesticides are readily absorbed by plant roots and transported systemically in the plant's vascular system to other parts of the plant, including roots, pollen, nectar, leaves, stems, and fruit. This absorption pathway results in the exposure of beneficial, non-target insects such as bees and other pollinators to potentially lethal doses of these pesticides. These insecticides are added to ornamental flower dust, insecticidal sprays, fertilizers, and other landscaping products. They are also found in pre-treated seeds and plants — including some that are labeled pollinator friendly — as well as in some pressure-treated wood, deck sealants, and other building supplies to minimize pest damage.
Despite mounting evidence of the significant hazard that neonics pose to pollinators, the U.S. EPA has continued allowing most neonicotinoid pesticides to remain on the market. Fortunately, a growing number of government entities and institutions — notably, local governments and universities — are taking action to protect pollinators by adopting new policies and practices that restrict the use of neonics and increase the amount of pollinator-friendly habitat on their property.
Buyers Bee-ware: Municipal Purchasers' Guide
RPN Webinar: Saving the Pollinators - July 15, 2015
State and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities, hospitals, and businesses spend millions of dollars a year on landscaping and pest management products and services. During the past decade, many of these organizations have saved money and reduced toxic chemical use through integrated pest management (IPM). In addition, some organizations have eliminated the use of neonicotinoid pesticides ("neonics") to protect bees and other pollinators. RPN and Friends of the Earth co-hosted this webinar on purchasing strategies government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses can take to protect bees and other pollinators.
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