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Cheers and Jeers

August 12, 2014 | Cheers and Jeers

Law school becomes first to promote honey bee health

Cheers to Vermont Law School (VLS) for becoming the first BEE Protective campus in the nation to end the use of neonicotinoid pesticides—the pesticides specifically linked to pollinator declines. The BEE Protective Campaign was launched by the Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides to protect honey bees and other pollinators from pesticides.

“Honey bees and other pollinators play a critical role in agricultural systems,” said Laurie Ristino, director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and VLS associate professor of law. “Protecting their health and safety is a reflection of Vermont Law School’s commitment to the environment and CAFS’ mission to support sustainable food and agricultural systems. We hope more will follow our lead.” 

Vermont Law School’s partnership with the BEE Protective follows an Obama administration directive, announced in June, to create a “Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” The presidential memorandum reports that “pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States.

Friends of Animals advocates for organic alternatives to pesticides. Most recently it published at story in the Spring edition of Action Line about the organic lawn care movement sweeping the nation. You can read it at www.friendsofanimals.org.

According to Beyond Pesticides, in the early 1990s, the first neonicotinoid, imidacloprid (Gaucho), was introduced to the U.S. by Bayer CropScience. Other neonicotinoid chemicals that have since entered the market include clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, thiacloprid and dinotefuran. Unlike traditional pesticides that are typically applied to the surface of plants, neonicotinoids are systemic—meaning they are absorbed and then spread throughout the entire plant, according to Beyond Pesticides. One way honey bees and other pollinators are exposed to these unique insecticides is through pollen and nectar when visiting plants. Neonicotinoids are also concerning because they persist in the environment and can accumulate quickly.

In related good news, this month Shorewood, Minn. became the first city in the state, and the third city in the nation to pass a bee friendly policy. The city council unanimously approved a “bee-safe” resolution that encourages planting bee-friendly flowers and restricts the bee-killing pesticides, neonicotinoids. The city has already begun planting clover, which will provide nectar and pollen forage for bees in city parks.

Shorewood follows the City of Eugene, Ore., which became the first community in the nation to specifically ban from city property the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. And in June, the city of Spokane, Wa. voted to discontinue the use of neonicotinoids on city property, making Spokane the second in the nation to take action to protect pollinators.

To learn more about the BEE Protective Campaign and how you can get your community, schools and local government to take action to protect pollinators, visit www.BEEprotective.org. Also check out these common home and garden products to avoid because they contain neonicotinoids:

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/pesticide_list_final_update-june-2014_13089.pdf.

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