Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

A SMALL POLLINATOR, A BIG PROBLEM — Millions of bees are dying off every year, and scientists point to a widely used class of pesticides as one of the main causes. 

Our Food Supply Relies On Bees

We have to stop the bee die-off and help this vitally important species recover, for the sake of our food, the environment and our economy. 

Bees are dying in the United States and around the world, and it’s a major problem. We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food. In the U.S. alone, honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops every year. 

We rely on bees to pollinate everything from strawberries to broccoli to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows. Imagine no almonds, less coffee and chocolate, fewer apples and strawberries, less ice cream and milk … the list goes on.

The bottom line: without bees, we don’t have food. 

OUR FAVORITE FOODS — Bees play an important role in pollinating some of our favorite foods, from strawberries and apples to almonds and coffee.

10,000 Times More Toxic To Bees Than DDT

Scientists point to pesticides as one of the main factors causing bees to die off in alarming numbers, in particular a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics). 

When seeds are treated with neonics, the chemicals work their way into the pollen and nectar of the plants — which, of course, is bad news for bees and other pollinators. 

Worse, neonics are at least 5,000-10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.

Just one example: After a nearby farm planted corn seeds coated with neonics in 2013, farmer Dave Schuit lost 37 million of his bees. “Once the corn started to get planted, our bees died by the millions,” said Schuit. 

UNPRECEDENTED LOSSES — In recent years, beekeepers report they’re losing an average 30 percent of all honey bee colonies each winter, twice the amount considered sustainable.

We Can Eliminate These Pesticides

Given the consequences for our farms and our food, you’d think we’d be doing all we can to protect bees and other pollinators from neonics. 

Scientists say that we don’t even need to spray these chemicals, since we have commonsense alternatives like altering the time of planting and watering, and planting more native species.

Yet big agrichemical companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Bayer and Syngenta are fighting to prevent bans. Syngenta has even asked federal regulators for permission to use even larger quantities of these pesticides — as much as 400 times more than currently allowed.

Alarmed by the role these chemicals are playing in the decline of bee populations, the European Union has banned several of them; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to phasing them out on the public lands they manage; and cities like Seattle and states like Maryland have taken action as well. 

Still, even with evidence showing that neonics need to be banned, we continue to spray about 46 million pounds of these pesticides on our homes, gardens and public spaces every year.

NO SAFE PLACE FOR A BEE TO EXIST — According to a recent study, about three quarters of all honey worldwide is contaminated with pesticides known to harm bees.

It’s Time For States To Take Action

For the past several years, PIRG and other groups have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban these pesticides nationwide, and they have failed to do so. We’re not waiting on the EPA any longer. Now, to protect bees and our food supply, we're calling on states to act.

In order to restore bee populations to health and save our food supply, we need states to ban the sale of bee-killing pesticides for our homes, parks and gardens and ensure that they are not used on state property. 

If enough states take action, we will eliminate the use of more than 40 percent of insecticides used in this country. That’s a lot of bees that we can save — bees that will pollinate our food. 

That kind of collective action will be a strong signal to large chemical companies and the federal government that we want them to stop poisoning our parks, homes and food with these products.

Right now, we’re spraying chemicals that are known to kill bees just as we’re in the midst of an unsustainable die-off in bee populations. That has to change — now.

Join us in calling on Gov. Brown to take action to protect bees and our food.

Issue updates

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U.S. PIRG Education Fund found fidget spinners with high levels of lead for sale at Target stores across the country. Parents and consumers need to know about these lead-laden toys, especially because we alerted Target and the toy’s distributor, Bulls i Toy, to our findings, but they refused to address the problem. The toxic fidget spinners are still available both in toy aisles at Target stores and on its website. Incredibly, Target and Bulls i Toy defend their inaction by pointing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) declaration that fidget spinners are NOT technically “children’s products” subject to legal limits for lead.

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World Health Organization Urges Meat Industry To Cut Routine Antibiotic Use

The World Health Organization’s new guidelines on antibiotic use in the meat industry couldn’t come sooner. At least 2 million Americans become ill each year due to antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 die. The guidelines make clear that the agriculture sector needs to stop using antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in healthy animals.

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Statement on Walmart’s Decision to Strengthen Chemical Footprint Policy

OSPIRG applauds retail giant Walmart for updating its sustainability policy to restrict toxic chemicals in 90,000 products including cosmetics and skincare items, infant products, and household cleaners.

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Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

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Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took three critical steps toward protecting consumers and firefighters from the hazards posed by a class of flame retardant chemicals (known as “organohalogens”). The CPSC directed the Commission’s staff to begin the rulemaking process to ban the sale of four categories of consumer products if they contain these chemicals. Once again, the CPSC has made an important action for consumers.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Public Health

Subway to Eliminate Antibiotics from Meat

The country’s largest restaurant chain, Subway, announced this morning that they plan to eliminate  antibiotic use in all of its meat supplies, according to the Wall Street Journal and ABC News. According to news reports, the chain will shift its entire chicken supply by the end of 2016; transition its entire turkey supply within two to three years; and transition its pork and beef within six years after the turkey shift is completed or by 2025. What follows is a statement from OSPIRG executive director Dave Rosenfeld:

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Statement of OSPIRG executive director Dave Rosenfeld in response to Foster Farms’ announcement this morning pledging to eliminate medically important antibiotics from its chicken operations:

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Tyson to phase out antibiotics from chicken; is Oregon next?

Statement of OSPIRG Executive Director Dave Rosenfeld on Tyson’s announcement regarding antibiotic use in its chicken operations

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

Americans are not hearing about food recalls, and that communication breakdown is having serious repercussions for public health. For example, less than two years ago, people kept getting sick for months after 12 million pounds of Salmonella-contaminated beef was recalled. The pattern has repeated for other recalls even when news outlets have publicized warnings from food safety agencies. 

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans contract a food borne illness yearly with 128,000 people hospitalized and 3,000 dead as a result of these illnesses. 

The food safety system uses two lines of defense to help prevent this threat. First a series of inspections and enforcement measures identify hazardous products before they make it to store shelves and Americans’ plates. Second, when a foodborne pathogen or other threats are still sold for consumption, the recall system attempts to remove the food from store shelves as quickly as possible and alerts consumers about the hazard. While not all illnesses are connected to a source, removing contaminated food from the market helps protect the public.

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Blog Post

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On Nov. 14, U.S. PIRG and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) of George Washington University launched "Superbugs Unplugged," a podcast that will dive into the alarming issue of antibiotic resistance and how we can slow it. Matt Wellington, our Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign director, is co-hosting the podcast, along with Dr. Lance Price of ARAC. 

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EPA review insists glyphosate not linked to cancer

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Ban Roundup

Rather than require warning labels for Roundup, the Trump administration is moving to prohibit them.

 
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