Report: Pesticide Industry Delaying Bee Protections Across US

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Kelly Trout
Email: ktrout@foe.org
Phone: 202-222-0722

Report: Pesticide Industry Delaying Bee Protections Across US

Bayer, Syngenta, Monsanto influence shaping federal and state pollinator plans

WASHINGTON - Amid an ongoing pollinator crisis that threatens our food system, a new report issued today by Friends of the Earth documents how the pesticide industry has weakened and delayed pesticide reforms and is shaping new pollinator “protection” plans nationwide that do little to protect bees, but a lot to protect industry profits.

The investigation, titled “Buzz Kill: How the Pesticide Industry is Clipping the Wings of Bee Protection Efforts Across the U.S.,” reveals an array of pesticide industry tactics to slow urgently needed pollinator protection measures at federal and state levels:

* Lobbying intensively to delay bee protections: The industry is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying to delay state and federal action on the pesticides they manufacture. As a result, state pollinator protection plans across the U.S. are falling short in several ways, including:

  • State pollinator protection plans currently provide more protections for pesticides and pesticide users than for bee keepers and bee colonies.
  • Pesticide industry influence is pervasive throughout states’ legislative and regulatory planning efforts.
  • Plans lack metrics to measure effectiveness, improvement or failure.

* Cycling through the revolving door: The pesticide industry has infiltrated federal regulatory agencies via the “revolving door.” In hundreds of documented cases, employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have shuffled between regulatory agencies and companies including Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto.

* Using “public-private” partnerships to cast doubt on pesticide problems: Pesticide manufacturers have cultivated strategic partnerships with public agencies and academic groups that call into question pesticides’ culpability and that help bolster the companies’ credibility.

* Swaying science and education: The pesticide industry has directly funded or influenced science by donating to education initiatives and building strategic alliances with academics.

“Pesticide companies are successfully pulling the wool over the eyes of our policy makers, which has resulted in a patchwork of initiatives by our state and federal government to that do little to curb or restrict pesticides,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “Our government is giving more weight to the pesticide industry than to protecting bees, beekeepers, our food supply and environment. It is critical for policymakers to stand up for the long-term health of our food system, not the short-term profits of companies that manufacture a leading cause of bee declines.”

This week, a national “Keep the Hives Alive Tour” kicked off June 13-23, with stops in South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, to mark National Pollinator Week. At the end of the tour, beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates will deliver a truck load of 2.64 million dead bees to Washington, D.C. to urge the EPA, USDA and Congress to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture.

Buzz Kill builds on FOE’s 2014 “Follow the Honey” report, which revealed how chemical companies Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto employ deceptive tobacco-style public relations tactics to:

* manufacture doubt about scientific findings on pollinator die-offs;

* convince politicians to delay action on neonicotinoid pesticides (a leading contributor to bee declines);

* and protect chemical industry sales and profits at the expense of bees and our food system.

Today’s report details how new state pollinator protection plans, many still unfinished, have been heavily influenced by pesticide industry interests.

“Pesticide companies appear to have succeeded in delaying regulatory action on the pesticides they manufacture and market, but enough is enough,” said Finck-Haynes. “Beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates across the country are uniting to demand real action by our government to protect pollinators and support sustainable agriculture.”

Both reports – "Buzz Kill: How the Pesticide Industry is Clipping the Wings of Bee Protection Efforts Across the U.S." and "Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits” – can be found at www.foe.org/beeaction.

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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