The Bee, the Puppy and You!

2015 Beauty of the Bee Director's Choice Winner

2015 Beauty of the Bee Director’s Choice Winner

This week national environmental leaders in bee protection, including Beyond Toxics, signed on to letters sent to Ace and True Value Hardware stores asking them to act now to protect bees! Our petition is for Ace and True Value to commit to not sell products containing systemic neonicotinoid pesticides harmful to bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife.

It only seems fair that Ace and True Value should act responsibly, since they claim to want to meet growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly garden products. News alert! Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides are not environmentally friendly!

Two commitments are needed from Ace and True Value:

  1. 1. Do not sell products containing neonicotinoids. 2. Do not sell garden plants treated with these chemicals.

Plant nurseries and garden suppliers all need to get in step with the nation’s search for lasting pollinator protections – actions that will stop the precipitous decline of native and managed bee populations. Just last year, the USDA reported that bee keepers lost over 42% of their hives. Native bee die-offs are occurring all too frequently (however, they are not officially measured). Native bees pollinate more than 72% of flowering trees and plants, and thus need immediate protection to save ecosystem biodiversity. Also they are the strongest pollinators, so native bees are essential to agriculture as well.

On August 15th, Beyond Toxics launched the nation’s first Native Bee Conservation Awareness Day. Thousands of folks have signed a Take Part petition to launch native bee protection days in their own state! In the same month, thousands celebrated National Honey Bee Day and sent letters, made calls and visited Ace Hardware stores demanding steps to protect pollinators and the planet. The response from Ace? Silence. They have not committed to a timeline or benchmarks to phase-out products and plants that contain these chemicals. In response to consumer concerns, at least Lowes and Home Depot are taking steps to phase out these products and plants that received neonicotinoid applications.

We love bees, of course, but there are human consequences of neonic use too. Beyond Toxics is also dedicated to raising awareness about the important environmental justice aspect to this issue. Read these compelling words spoken by a top farmworker representative:

“ Unseen, unheard, yet on the front lines of neonic pesticides on garden plants are the farmworkers in the nurseries and greenhouses that grow and ship the plants that Ace sells to the public,” said Tirso Moreno, general coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida. “If the pesticides are killing the bees, they are certainly impacting the health of the farmworkers who are exposed every day — eight, ten, twelve hours a day — at their places of work. Protecting bees means protecting farmworker families.”

Human health concerns are now starting to surface in the scientific literature. Alarms are being sounded about the relationship between neonicotinoid pesticides and childhood learning disabilities. It’s sobering to know that, in addition to farm workers being exposed, your family may be exposed to neonicotinoids in flea and tick sprays for dogs and cats. If you use sprays, dusts, powders or skin applications for fleas or ticks on family pets, you are likely exposing your household to these neurotoxins. What child is not constantly hugging their dog, or playing on the carpet where the cat was rolling, or watching TV in the room where a flea bomb was set off?

Yes, it’s time for consumers to raise their voices again! We must demand that Ace and True Value stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides in their stores.

And what can we do personally? Each of us who stops using these products in our homes and gardens is not only protecting the viability of future bees and ecosystems, we are also taking action for the good of our families, particularly the next generation of healthy active minds. Thank you for doing all you can to Save Oregon Bees (and the future!)!    — Lisa