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New Landmark Study: Tighter Pesticide Regulations Key to Reversing Pollinator Declines

PORTLAND, ORE. - Tighter regulation of pesticides is the top recommendation issued by leading pollinator researchers to reverse dramatic declines in populations of  bees, butterflies and other pollinators, according to a new paper just published in the journal Science.The researchers’ urgent recommendations for protecting pollinators come on the heels of last week’s release of the largest and most comprehensive global assessment ever of pollinators, which found that 40 percent of pollinating insects are threatened with extinction.

“The science is becoming clearer by the day: To save our butterflies and bees from extinction we must overcome our dangerous and totally unsustainable addiction to pesticides,” said Kelsey Kopec, a native pollinator researcher at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Seventy-five percent of food crops and nearly 90 percent of wild flowering plants are dependent on animal pollination, according to the global pollinator assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.


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The study also found that pesticides — specifically a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids — are a significant driver of wild pollinator declines. In January 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency admitted that a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid poses a significant risk to bees. But almost a year later, the agency still has not taken any steps to substantively reduce use of the highly toxic pesticide. Europe has banned neonicotinoid use and Canada has proposed a ban on imidacloprid because of the treat it poses to pollinator populations.

“The EPA has to stop ignoring scientific recommendations and the mountains of evidence supporting them and take action to ban the use of bee-toxic pesticides,” said Kopec. “We all need healthy pollinator populations to thrive, and we know that reining in the use of bee-toxic pesticides is key to turning around the steep declines in these populations. Now we need the EPA to step up and take action to save our bees.”

In addition to urging that pesticide regulatory standards be raised as its top recommendation, the Science paper issues nine more policy recommendations, including a call for integrated pest management to be promoted and for indirect and sublethal effects to be included in genetically engineered crop risk assessments.


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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