Saturday, October 5, 2013

National Pest Management Association (NPMA) statement on Pollinator Health

from NPMA enews alert:


October 4, 2013

Thousands of dead and twitching bees were found near honey bee colonies in a suburb of Minneapolis on September 12.  Researchers at Minnesota's Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab and Bee Squad have just reported that residues of fipronil were found in the dead bees. The state is investigating the incident and working to determine how the bees were exposed to fipronil residues.

This incident follows on the heels of another occurrence this summer, in which 25,000-50,000 bumblebees and other insects were killed in Oregon after exposure to dinotefuran, a commonly used neonicotinoid. In that case, a property maintenance contractor applied the pesticide to 55 flowering linden trees in an effort to control aphids. As a result, the state of Oregon enacted a temporary ban on the use of many dinotefuran-based insecticides.  (See complete list here) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) will reassess the temporary restriction after officials finish their investigation into the pesticide applications in question. The temporary ban only affects certain pesticide uses that could harm pollinators, including outdoor applications on lawns, landscape ornamentals, trees and crops.  

The health of pollinators has received unprecedented attention in recent months, even garnering a cover story on the August 19th issue of  Time magazine, and corresponding live Twitter chat on the subject, featuring guests from the EPA, USDA and author of The Beekeeper's Lament, Hannah Nordhaus.

Many of the products that are applied by professional applicators have the potential to be toxic to bees when exposed to direct treatment or residues on plants in bloom, including crops, ornamental plants or weeds.  Such products should not be applied when bees are visiting or expected to visit the treatment area, or if the applied product may drift outside the treatment area. By limiting the direct and potential exposure of pollinators to pesticides, pest management professionals can reduce the likelihood of similar events in the future and beneficial organisms like bees can be protected.  It is very important that the applicator know the potential toxicity to bees for the products they are planning to apply.   Also, the applicator should always read, understand and follow labels in their entirety, including the environmental hazard and precautionary statements, prior to product application.  This information should be reinforced immediately to all service technicians. 

NPMA Statement on Pollinator Health
Pollinators play an essential role in the nation's food supply chain. We are dependent on bees, flies, moths and other insects to help pollinate crops.  However, some of these insects - bees in particular -are also known to pose health and safety risks to the public. In fact, stinging insects send an estimated 500,000 people to the hospital every year.  They are the leading cause of anaphylaxis-related deaths in the United States. In light of this, bees are - and some government entities have deemed them - a public safety hazard. 

So how do we, the American public, protect our families and our children, from these insects that are both vital and potentially harmful?  The answer is carefully.  The federal government, farmers, the professional pest management industry, and home and business owners must cooperate together to ensure effective tools are available to keep the public safe from stinging insects, yet do so in a manner that will enable pollinators to thrive in appropriate settings.

The National Pest Management Association is working with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), state regulators, and other stakeholders equally committed to ensuring an appropriate symbiotic relationship exists between the safety of the American public and the essential role bees play in agriculture. 

Additional Resources

The National Pest Management Association and the Professional Pest Management Alliance will continue to monitor issues surrounding pollinator health and share relevant information as it becomes available.

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