Obama promises measures to save US bees from decline



Barack Obama has called for the US government to work together to research and establish a Pollinator Health Task Force, in an effort to stop the worrying decline of bees and other pollinators that are vital to the US economy.

The president said in a presidential memorandum, “Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the US and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets.

“The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.”

He noted that the loss of bees was posing significant threats to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping in America and suggested this was due to a combination of diseases, pesticides and a lack of foraging.

Obama added, “Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement.”

For the first time, the president told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research the possible effects of neonicotinoids, which a Harvard study recently linked to the decline and which the EU commission banned in Europe in December.

The plan would include research, education programmes and habitat improvements.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth US, welcomed the announcement, but said that given the amount of evidence on the harmful effects of neonicotinoids, Obama should have banned the pesticides.

She added, “He could restrict neonicotinoids today as the European Union has done and he should do that if he wants to protect our pollinators, our food systems, and our environment.”

Photo: Forest Wander via Flickr

Further reading:

Bee colonies helped by mild winter in England, survey shows

EU ban on bee-harmful pesticides to begin in December

Banned pesticides highly likely to cause bee colony collapse, says Harvard study

Study: presence of bees ‘underestimated’ and improves value of crops

Loss of $200bn pollinating services will be harmful, scientists warn


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