pan_logoPesticide Action Network North America (PAN North America, or PANNA) works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. PAN links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to ensure the transition to a just and viable society.  One of PAN's current campaigns is honey bee health.

Bees have been dying off in droves around the world since the mid-1990s. First in France, then in the U.S. and elsewhere, colonies have been mysteriously collapsing with adult bees disappearing, seemingly abandoning their hives. In 2006, about two years after this phenomena hit the U.S., it was named “Colony Collapse Disorder,” or CCD. Each year since commercial beekeepers have reported annual losses of 29% - 36%. Such losses are unprecedented, and more than double what is considered normal.


While wild pollinators like bats and bumble bees are also facing catastrophic declines, managed honey bees are the most economically important pollinators in the world. According to a recent U.N. report, of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. In the U.S. alone, honey bees’ economic contribution is valued at over $15 billion.

What are the bees telling us:

In addition to their agricultural value as pollinators, honey bees are a keystone, indicator species. Their decline points to (and will likely accelerate) broader environmental degradation in a kind of ripple effect. Pollinator population declines are thus a disproportionately important piece of the current collapse in biodiversity that seven in ten biologists believe poses an even greater threat to humanity than the global warming which contributes to it. Little-known fact: we are today living through a sixth mass extinction. During the last one, dinosaurs went extinct.

As indicator species, honey bees are sounding an alarm that we ignore at our peril. Among their lessons: industrial agriculture has gone off the rails, kicking the pesticide treadmill into high gear with a new class of dangerous systemic pesticides while regulators were asleep at the switch.

Action is long overdue:

Governments in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere have already taken action against neonicotinoids to protect their pollinators. And beekeepers there are reporting recovery. Yet regulators in the U.S. remain paralyzed, apparently captive to industry-funded science and a regulatory framework that finds chemicals innocent until proven guilty.

It seems that only massive public outcry will compel U.S. policymakers to take action on a time-frame that is meaningful for bees and beekeepers. With one in every three bites of food dependent on honey bees for pollination, the time for decisive action is now.

Take action - click here to request that bee-killing pesticides be pulled from the market.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 21 September 2011 12:44)