Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pesticides, GMO's, Pollinators, and You

This is the first and only Monarch I've seen this year. He was born in a butterfly habitat in my living room, and he'll soon be released into my garden.
Monarchs are scarce this year. Cool, rainy weather on the east coast, storms in Texas, habitat destruction, and pesticides are responsible for some of the lowest numbers in years. Organizations such as Monarch Watch are instrumental in restoring the Monarch population, but we need legislation on our side to make a significant impact.

Pesticides, in combination with genetically modified crops, are wreaking havoc on pollinators and the food chains they support. The EPA released an important statement on pesticide labeling last week, prohibiting the use of some neonicotinoids. The press release is below. This is a huge step in the right direction, but probably not enough. The European Union recently banned the use of neonicotinoid use for two years, in an effort to protect bees. It'll be interesting to see  the impact of stricter legislation. While much attention is paid to bees and colony collapse disorder, all pollinators are effected by pesticide use, as are the birds who rely on insects in their diet, and so on up the food chain. 

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

August 15, 2013

New Pesticide Labels Will Better Protect Bees and Other Pollinators 

WASHINGTON – In an ongoing effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present.

“Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. Today’s announcement affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so that they will meet the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standard.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health, showing scientific consensus that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

The agency continues to work with beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, pesticide and seed companies, and federal and state agencies to reduce pesticide drift dust and advance best management practices. The EPA recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents.

More on the EPA’s label changes and pollinator protection efforts: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html

View the infographic on EPA’s new bee advisory box: 


  1. Wow. Although I definitely agree with the dangers of pesticides, I'm surprised that you had so few butterflies this year. I wrote a post just yesterday about the abundance of butterflies this year here in Florida and I have heard from other people in the Northeast part of the country who said that they seem to have more butterflies this year, too. http://www.backyardbrevard.com/2013/08/abundance-of-butterflies/

  2. I'm glad you have lots of butterflies in FL. Monarchs, in particular, are in short supply this year. Monarch Watch predicted low numbers this year, and that has played out around the country. Local lepidopterists are also reporting low numbers. Here's a link to an article on low numbers. http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/07/10/monarch-butterfly-migration-threat-solution

    Here's a link to an article on low numbers in Michigan: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/where_are_all_the_monarch_butterflies_in_michigan_in_2013