Lawmaker queries EPA on the use of common pesticides and their impacts on valuable honeybee populations

WASHINGTON, D.C. –With concerns about recent declines in honeybee populations and the impact on food crops, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate a possible link between the use of common pesticides and reductions in the honeybee population. Bee pollination contributes an estimated $15 billion in additional crop yields. Yet, recent research has found that certain members of a group of related pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, may be jeopardizing bee populations and with them important food crops and jobs. The query comes as communities in Texas raise concerns about the health and environmental impacts of aerial spraying of pesticides, being used to combat mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.
“The proverb ‘No bees, no honey, no work, no money’ may become all too true if we don’t investigate the impact of pesticides on our valuable honeybee population,” said Rep. Markey. “Bees are vital to our nation’s economy and food security. I urge the EPA to look more closely at the impacts of these commonly used pesticides on the bee population, and I look forward to the agency’s response.”
A link to Rep. Markey’s letter to the EPA can be found HERE.
Recent scientific studies show evidence that the class of neonicotinoid pesticides that includes clothiandin may cause “Colony Collapse Disorder”, a phenomenon that results in the death of the Queen and immature bees after the abandonment of worker bees. Despite this, the EPA last month denied a petition from commercial beekeepers and environmental organizations that sought the suspension of the use of clothiandin, asserting that the pesticide causes Colony Collapse Disorder and is jeopardizing critical honeybee population levels. In his letter to the EPA, Rep. Markey notes that several other European countries have already taken steps to restrict or outright ban the use of these harmful pesticides in an effort to protect bee populations.
In his letter to the EPA, Rep. Markey asks the agency to respond to questions, including:

  • Has the EPA investigated the impacts of the class of pesticides on honeybees and other pollinators?
  • What steps has EPA taken, and what more can the agency do, to limit or restrict the use of these pesticides and reduce the impact on bee populations?
  • What steps is What steps is the EPA taking to ensure there is sufficient scientific evidence to make informed decisions about the impacts of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators?