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Posts Tagged ‘pesticides’

Today I’m applauding my mother, who wants to build a pollinator garden. What a fantastic idea, and one supported by the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, Honey Nut Cheerios (for obvious reasons), and many others.

She’s interested in planting a series of native plant species that will flower from early to late growing season and support bees and other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. And it doesn’t have to be a large-scale project to make a difference.

I’ve talked about bees here before but the point deserves emphasis: we need them. Which is why this week I’m lauding the pest control company Ortho for removing neonics, the neonicotinoid-based pesticides linked to wide-scale bee deaths, from their outdoor products. Here’s hoping other companies follow suit soon with this and other bee-friendly strategies, before this Whole Foods nightmare becomes a terrible coffee, chocolate and fruit-free nightmare. Coffee, people!

Dandelions are pretty (and if you don’t agree there are more targeted ways to get rid of them), weeding is good exercise, and seventy-five percent of US fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. And killing off millions of enthusiastic workers doing their jobs for free seems awfully self-defeating.

Why care about pollinators? Personally, I like bees, and I like food. I like to imagine a future filled with more possibilities, not less.

I also care because we’re more dependent on nature than we like to think. Because a future of limited food and little variety is a recipe for human and natural disaster (also? bland!). And because I don’t want to spend my declining years describing the rich red taste of ripe strawberries to children who have no idea what I’m talking about.

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A new report is calling for the global banning of two common pesticides, neonicotinoids and fipronil. Why? Bees. Also birds, earthworms, other pollinators and aquatic invertebrates, but let’s focus on bees for a minute.

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.

― Albert Einstein

Maybe you’re sick of hearing that chemicals are implicated in colony collapse disorder and bee deaths? Maybe your eyes glaze over when someone mentions the importance of bees to the ecosystem? Well, are you sick of eating? Because that’s what this discussion is really about.

One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators.

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides is putting out the Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (yeah, it’s a mouthful, just call it WIA, or on Twitter: #WIAlaunch). It’s the most comprehensive study of neonics ever done, it’s peer reviewed, and it includes industry-sponsored research as well as other source material. The picture it paints is not pretty. From a Treehugger article on the report:

Many of the findings are shocking. The concentrations of chemicals building up in waters exceeds levels approved as safe by pesticide regulations. Many of the species occupying critical links low in our food chains are being exposed via multiple pathways and by cocktails of chemicals acting together.

Scientists note that the prophylactic use of pesticides rivals CAFO antibiotic abuse; in both practices, chemicals are dosed into our environment causing real problems in a quest to avoid potential problems.

This Is What Our Grocery Shelves Would Look Like Without Bees

We’d be eating porridge, rice, bread — not much else. Life would be awful.

― Dave Goulson

We’re lucky enough to have a food factory where the most important workers do the job for free, and we’re dousing them with poison. Where’s the sense in that? Humanity is often smart and frequently innovative, particularly when something we care about is threatened. We got over our devil-may-care love affair with DDT when it was shown to have persistent toxicological effects on the environment and, you know, life. We can do this too.

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