There has been a tragic global bee epidemic in the past several years; so much so that a number of bee species were added to the Endangered Species List for the first time in 2016. Since 2006, the widespread death of bees, known as “colony collapse disorder,” began to become a serious issue for agriculture. While there are many suspected causes of this phenomenon, pesticides have been found to play a major role.
Bees exposed to toxic pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, either die, become disoriented and lose their way back to their hives, or if they do find their hives, they spread the pesticides to other bees, which then leads to the collapse of the entire colony in just a few weeks.
Why do bees matter so much to humans? It is estimated that one out of every three bites of food we eat relies on bees for pollination (and this number is higher for those who eat plant-based diets.) Bees’ worldwide pollination is estimated to be worth $125 billion and is valued around $20-30 billion in the U.S. alone.
Thankfully, however, there are people on the frontlines, like the non-profit team of environmental lawyers, EarthJustice, who are working tirelessly to protect our planet’s bees, and they have accomplished a major success.
On September 19, 2017, the First District California Court of Appeal rejected the approval of two harmful neonicotinoid pesticides, sold under the names Venom Insecticide and Dinotefuran 20SG. EarthJustice lawyers represented the plaintiffs in the case, who had initially lost their case in trial court.
The use of neonicotinoids linked to colony collapse is not merely a theory. Over 800 independent studies reviewed by twenty-nine independent scientists have proven the link between neonics and the death of bees. This California Court decision is a major win for bees and our agricultural system. With California being a mecca for agriculture with some of the richest topsoils in the world, halting the use of two incredibly harmful toxic pesticides will hopefully allow bee populations to begin to replenish and thrive, and therefore contribute to the growth and health of our crops as well.
To read the court document from the appeal, go here.
There are many things you can do to help bees, including choosing to eat organic foods and planting bee-friendly gardens. For ideas on how to help bees, read this to help you get started. And please share this good news with your family and friends to help increase support for bees!
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