Action Alert: Tell White House Task Force They Can Do Better on Pollinators
Pollinator plan aims high, but falls short. Tell the White House Task Force they can do better.
The White House Pollinator Health Task Force (WHTF) has just released its strategy to address the threats to bees, monarchs and other pollinators. While the Task Force has developed positive, far reaching goals for honey bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators, the plan is unfortunately far too weak to actually accomplish those goals. We think the White House can do better.
The Good: The plan calls for reducing honey bee colony losses during winter to no more than 15 percent within 10 years; increasing the monarch butterfly population to 225 million butterflies in the overwintering grounds in Mexico by 2020; and restoring or enhancing 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next 5 years.
As part of the plan, EPA will also speed up the reviews of several bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides and prohibit foliar sprays of acutely toxic pesticides while managed honey bees are present for pollination services. Other highlights in the WHTF strategy include the need to assess wild bee population declines and to expand pesticide risk assessments to include additional species and the long-term impacts of pesticide exposure to these species.
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While the plan focuses heavily on improving pollinator habitat, it is blind to the fact that new habitat will simply become contaminated by insecticides still heavily in use.
The Bad: While the plan focuses heavily on improving pollinator habitat, it is blind to the fact that new habitat will simply become contaminated by insecticides still heavily in use, ultimately harming pollinators. We can’t just plant more wild flowers near crop land and expect insecticides to stop being a problem. Similarly, while efforts to restore milkweed habitat for monarchs are important, without addressing the agricultural practices responsible for the eradication of milkweed, monarch populations will not rebound to resilient, healthy levels.
The Ugly: Unfortunately, the White House plan ignores several common sense solutions repeatedly put forth by CFS and our allies, which include closing loopholes in the pesticide review process, suspending the use of neonicotinoids for seed coatings, and instituting a national pesticide use reporting system.
The plan has some good steps, but it fails to recognize or in any way follow the concrete steps taken in the European Union or elsewhere to sharply reduce the risks to pollinators posed by agricultural chemicals. It is a slow, reactive plan instead of the proactive plan the pollinator crisis now demands.