Pollinators take center stage on Capitol Hill

Pollinator health is a hot topic on Capitol Hill. “Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013” would require EPA restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides on bee-attractive plants. A House Agriculture subcommittee is reviewing the bill now. Also in the House subcommittee, bill  H.R. 5447 pushes for expedited approval of pesticides “for the management of parasitic pests that adversely impact the health of managed pollinator bees, and for other purposes.” The Natural Resources Defense Council sees the bill as unnecessary, and recommends expedited review for only those products meeting current reduced-risk criteria set by EPA.

At the end of September, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) organized a letter to the EPA with 58 congressional signatories urging the agency to undertake further research on neonicotinoids and enforce tighter restrictions on pesticides including neonicotinoid use on crops.

On November 12, the Northeastern IPM Center hosted “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Pollinators: What is the appropriate role for IPM on the issue of pollinators?” The webinar featured a panel of representatives from USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Jennifer Sass of the NRDC, presented IPM as a cost-effective solution to pollinator health issues because of its flexibility to match the varying conditions of each grower, comparing IPM practitioners to “Star Trek pioneers of agriculture”. EPA’s Tom Moriarty suggested that IPM Centers are “natural sources” for disseminating information on pest management techniques that promote pollinator health. A  recording is available.

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) has also indicated interest in weighing in, recently proposing pollinator health as a topic for one of their Science Policy Position Statements.

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