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The Buzz from National Pollinator Week

June 26th, 2013
By Larissa Walker, Pollinator Campaign Director
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety

Last week, from June 17th – 23rd, people across the country swarmed together to celebrate National Pollinator Week and raise awareness about the importance of bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators.  After all, 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat depends on the 200,000 something species responsible for pollinating our plants. Never missing an opportunity to talk about the birds and the bees, Center for Food Safety was eager to join the festivities and hosted several events and activities during the week, including:

  • Kickoff Film Screening: As a fun and informative start to pollinator week, on Monday we hosted a film screening of Vanishing of the Bees and a Q&A with director Maryam Henein for the audience afterwards. We shared our BEE Protective Campaign materials with the nearly 100 attendees, and The Hill Center staff even whipped up a batch of honey bourbon drinks for the festivities.
  • Pollinator Photography Contest: CFS launched their first annual pollinators photography contest and each day selected a new winner to be showcased on the CFS website, Facebook and Twitter pages. There were over 500 submissions with multitudes of stunning photographs – we can’t wait for next year’s contest!
  • Twitter #PollinatorChat: CFS, Beyond Pesticides and Pesticide Action Network led a lively daily twitter chat each day and engaged the twitter community on variety of topics, including a beekeeper Q&A with NY beekeeper Jim Doan, fun facts about pollinators for gardeners, and the value of pollination to some of our favorite foods.
  • USDA Annual Pollinator Festival: CFS also had a booth at the USDA People’s Garden and participated in their 4th Annual Pollinator Festival – where we chatted all day about our pollinators work and BEE protective campaign.

There was also quite a bit of buzz generated by some unexpected pollinator activities that week.  On Wednesday, June 19th, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a pollinator protection amendment to the Farm Bill, which (if the Farm Bill had passed) would have helped to ensure the viability of honey bees, native pollinators and other beneficial insects. While numerous other amendments critical to supporting sustainable food systems were left out of Farm Bill discussions or later voted against, Representative Alcee Hastings, who sponsored the pollinator amendment, proceeded to candidly  remind his colleagues, “No bees, no food.” Others seemed to agree, and the amendment passed by a bipartisan vote of 273-149. In addition to Center for Food Safety, some of the other groups on record in support of the amendment included: American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, American Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, Blue Diamond Growers, American Farmland Trust, Pollinator Partnership and National Wildlife Federation.

Also creating quite a sticky situation during National Pollinator Week was the unfortunate mass bumblebee kill in Oregon, where a neonicotinoid pesticide application to blooming Linden trees killed over 50,000 native bumblebees. Perhaps even more alarming than the incident itself is the fact that these types of pesticide-related bee kills happen regularly across the globe – and unlike managed honey bees, without careful documentation (as was the case with the recent tragedy in OR) these incidents would go unnoticed.

Just a few days after this horrific pesticide bee-kill, Center for Food Safety and 11 other environmental and public interest groups sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take necessary action with neonicotinoids and follow the European Union’s lead in suspending these bee-toxic chemicals.  As the ecological impacts of these chemicals are becoming more apparent through new scientific research and real world consequences, CFS will continue advocating for their suspension and the protection of pollinators.

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