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Beyond Pesticides

November 14, 2014

What We Learned from the EPA Listening Session on Protecting Pollinators

Don't Let Industry Steal Your Voice at the USDA Session Monday, November 17th

With little notice, USDA and EPA announced two listening sessions on pollinator health, requesting feedback to inform a strategy to address the decline of these critical species. Thanks to all who have already participated and provided comments to the agencies on regulations.gov.

If you attended EPA's session Wednesday, you likely heard the chemical industry come out in full force, doubling down on varroa mites as the leading cause of pollinator declines, despite mounting evidence pointing to pesticides, particularly systemic neonicotinoids, as the main contributing factor.

We need your participation to counter industry spin. Let the agencies know that organic systems are the only way to solve the pollinator crisis in the long-term.

Take part in the upcoming USDA listening sessions online, in person, or through comments to regulations.gov. The session will take place Monday, November 17 from 1 to 3PM EST. If you miss the session, USDA and EPA will accept public comments until November 24th.

Here's how to join:
Online: Click the link below at least 15 min. prior to the meeting to ensure you're properly set-up.

In person:
USDA Session, (November 17 1-3PM ET): 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD

In writing: In addition to the listening session, EPA will be accepting written comments at this link until November 24, 2014.

Talking Points for Comments:
EPA and USDA have a duty to protect our nation’s pollinators, and the Presidential memorandum has directed federal agencies to take action. Given average loss rates near 30% over the past 8 years, there is an urgent need to move quickly on finding long-term sustainable solutions for pollinator protection. A growing body of scientific evidence reveals connections between pollinator declines and pesticide exposure, making it evident to the public and government agencies that action must be taken to rein in these harmful chemicals.

USDA should:
- Ensure any new pollinator habitat is managed organically, free of neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides.
- Avoid pro-neonicotinoid bias in USDA activities by working to increase farmer access to neonicointoid-free seeds.
- Provide recommendations that reverse the trend of converting conservation land to cropland.
- Disseminate information to field offices across the country regarding EPA's recent findings that neonicotinoid seed treatments do not increase yield.

- Grow organic production systems to help stop contamination of air, water, land, and pollinators.

EPA should:
- Suspend the most harmful uses of the neonicotinoids promptly after assessment, pending resolution of the severe risks.
- Expedite the development and implementation of valid test guidelines for sub-lethal effects of pesticides on pollinators and require data from these studies for all currently-registered and any proposed new pesticides.
- Ensure that EPA’s assessment and all future ecological assessments fully value the broad array of ecosystem services threatened not only by neonicotinoids, but all systemic pesticides.
- Increase investment in research and funding for implementation of alternatives to neonicotinoids.
- Recommend incentives for farmers to create healthy pollinator habitats in the form of diversified, pesticide-free landscapes as an alternative to our current system of intensive monoculture.

Thank you for taking action to help our pollinators! For more information on Beyond Pesticides efforts to protect honey bees and other wild pollinators see the BEE Protective webpage.

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