How the widespread use of a bee-killing pesticide is threatening our food supply

We rely on bees to pollinate more than 70 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world's food — but as our society uses more bee-killing "neonic" pesticides, bee populations are plummeting.


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Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

A class of bee-killing pesticides called “neonics” can be found all over our nation’s yards, gardens and parks — around 4 million pounds of these chemicals are sprayed on plants across the country every year.

But if we keep allowing neonics to kill off massive numbers of the bees that pollinate some of the most essential crops, our food supply will face serious consequences.

Companies such as Bayer (which now owns the pesticide manufacturer previously known as Monsanto) can make a big impact for our bees and our food supply by committing to end its sale of products with neonics in them.

No bees, no food

They may be small in size, but bees are invaluable when it comes to maintaining our planet’s food supply — and they’re in jeopardy. As our society uses more pesticides, bee populations are plummeting.

If this trend continues, our food supply will face serious consequences. We rely on bees to pollinate more than 70 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food — everything from the fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereal crops we rely on for sustenance, to the alfalfa we feed dairy cows.

We shouldn’t be putting our pollinators and our food at risk just so we can keep using a certain pesticide — especially when safer alternatives are available. That’s why we’re calling on one of the world’s largest pesticide manufacturers to stop using bee-killing neonics.

Neonic pesticides can kill bees by the thousands

Part of what makes neonics so deadly is how they’re used. Neonics are often applied to the plant seed and to the soil surrounding it, making the entirety of the plant, including its pollen, lethal to bees looking to pollinate it as it grows.

Worse still, when neonics end up in soil, the pesticide can stay actively toxic for years and travel far and wide to other plants through rainwater and irrigation systems. In 2013, neonics sprayed onto the blooming linden trees near a shopping center in Oregon resulted in the death of some 50,000 bees — the largest mass bumblebee die-off ever recorded up to that point.

If we don’t have bees, the foods we love will slowly disappear. But there’s still time to reverse this trend and save our pollinators — if we act quickly to eliminate the worst uses of bee-killing neonics.

By combining the voices of thousands of citizen advocates like yourself with winning more local and state restrictions on neonics and getting the word out in the media, we have a real chance to get Bayer to act. And once we get such a huge industry player on board, the dominoes could start to fall.

Tell Bayer: Help save our bees by cutting out toxic neonic pesticides.


Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

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