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Bzzz Bzzz: It's National #PollinatorWeek!

June 22, 2016

Nine years ago the U.S. Senate designated a week in June to recognize and address the urgent issue of rapidly declining pollinator populations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior has officially proclaimed that this week, June 20-26, is designated as National Pollinator Week for 2016!

To celebrate, the USDA is hosting its seventh annual Pollinator Week Festival this Friday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The festival highlights "the work of USDA agencies, other federal departments and institutions such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Smithsonian Gardens, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, who along with partners like the National Honey Board, Pollinator Partnership and University of Maryland Extension are working to address pollinator decline. " Read more about the how USDA will be celebrating National #PollinatorWeek here

There are many reasons contributing to the loss of pollinators, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops have been labeled as contributors. These are common misconceptions. GMOs are not believed to have much of any impact on honey bee populations. 

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="193"] Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center in RTP[/caption]

In the GMO Answers' post -"Are GMOs contributing to the death of bees?" - Bee Ambassador for Bayer Chris Sansone points to several scientific studies indicating that this is not the case. He notes that “genetically modified plants and their impact on honey bees have been widely studied, and the results indicate that GM plants are not harmful to bees.”

"The insecticidal proteins produced by the currently available insect protected crops are derived from a common soil bacterium and all of the proteins used in insect-protected GM plants are tested for toxicity to honey bees. None of these proteins have provided any evidence of harm in either short or long term testing with both adult and larval honey bees."

What about the affect of neonicotinoids and glyphosate on the wild bee populations?

GMO Answer's expert Bill Reeves, Regulatory Policy & Scientific Affairs Manager, Chemistry at Monsanto, explains that there is sufficient information to conclude that Roundup herbicide and its active ingredient, glyphosate, do not cause adverse effects in honey bees:

"In addition to toxicity testing conducted in support of regulatory submissions to the Environmental Protection Agency that demonstrated glyphosate is practically nontoxic to honey bees through both oral and contact exposure, a 2014 publication by Thompson et al. found no adverse effects on adult bees or their young when they were fed environmentally realistic concentrations of glyphosate."

Iain Kelley, Director, Regulatory Policy and Issue Management at Bayer, also provided an expert response to the impact of neonicotinoids on bees:

"The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Pesticide Registration Process is designed to assess that pesticides used
according to label directions do not pose any unreasonable adverse effects to either native or managed bees....In 2007, the National Academy of Science issued an extensive study, 'Status of Pollinators in North America,' highlighting the central role that habitat has in maintaining native bee populations, and more recent publications support this.

"...Extensive studies on honey bees (which are not native pollinators but are a useful indicator species) show that labeled uses of neonicotinoids do not impact bee-colony health. Although less research has been conducted on other pollinators, studies on
bumblebees and leaf-cutting bees have shown that neonicotinoid applications can be safely used without harming these important pollinators."

What can you do to help pollinators?

Everyone can play a role in helping to restore pollinator populations. Read Bees, Butterflies and Bugs – The Balancing Act for some great tips.

You can also sign up for Bayer's Bee Care Buzz Newsletter or browse through their fact sheets on Bee Research and Care.