Pollinator Health Task Force Makes Recommendations to Oregon Legislature

For Immediate Release

November 19, 2014

Contact: Aimee Code, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, (541) 232-9767

Pollinator Health Task Force Makes Recommendations to Oregon Legislature

Majority of task force members see a need for greater oversight of pesticides

Salem, OR—On Wednesday, a special Task Force on Pollinator Health delivered a series of recommendations to the Oregon legislature on how to help the state’s honey bees, native bees and other pollinators. The task force’s recommendations have the potential to make improvements for pollinators, but fall short of meaningful policy solutions to address the clear threat that neonicotinoid insecticides pose to pollinators.

Because the task force only prioritized consensus recommendations, groups representing pesticide manufacturers, retailers and the nursery industry were able to stifle efforts to protect pollinators from highly toxic, long-lived systemic neonicotinoids and other potential pesticide threats.

The consensus decisions include: expansion of outreach and education, supporting new research, and increasing pollinator habitat. Five of the eight voting members also supported targeted oversight of pesticide use.

The weight of scientific evidence supports action to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids and other highly toxic systemic insecticides. Earlier this year, a review of more than 800 scientific research papers was released by a group of independent scientists. The review concluded that current use of neonicotinoids is a key factor in the decline of bees.

“By excluding pesticide oversight in the priorities, the task force has created a two-legged stool,” said task force member Aimee Code, Pesticide Program Coordinator for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “If we are to bring back pollinators we need to address all the core issues.”

Incidents in Oregon over the last two years demonstrate the risks of neonicotinoids. In fact, the task force was created partially in response to the death of an estimated 50,000 native bumble bees at a Wilsonville shopping center in June 2013. The incident was caused by the cosmetic use of a neonicotinoid insecticide on linden trees. Since then, neonicotinoids have been responsible for six other confirmed bee incidents in Oregon. Just last week, the state’s department of agriculture levied $16,000 in fines to those responsible for a bee poisoning in Eugene in June.

Industry’s opposition to targeted oversight of pesticide use is in stark contrast with the scientist, master gardener, beekeeper and conservationists on the task force. Actions opposed only by industry representatives include requiring a pesticide applicator’s license for anyone who regularly uses pesticides as part of his or her job; halting the use of two highly toxic, long-lived neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin and thiamethoxam) on linden trees; and increasing consumer awareness about whether retail ornamental plants have been treated with neonicotinoids.

“Oregon has the chance to be a leader in protecting our pollinators,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society, “but we must use the science to guide us, not the interests of industry.”

Although the Xerces Society is disappointed in the overall recommendations, the task force presented some good consensus recommendations. These include increasing pesticide registration fees to fund Oregon Department of Agriculture’s pesticide use outreach and education; prioritizing creation and management of pollinator friendly habitat on state lands, including parks and rights-of-way; and supporting the creation of a bee-health diagnostics facility.

Bees and other pollinators provide an estimated $600 million in pollination service in Oregon alone. That contribution helps provide better quality fruits and vegetables and helps keep food prices down.

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MEMBERS OF THE TASK FORCE ON POLLINATOR HEALTH
  • Dr. Ramesh Sagili (task force Chair), Assistant Professor (honey bee health, nutrition and pollination), Oregon State University.
  • Aimee Code, Pesticide Program Coordinator, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
  • Scott Dahlman, Executive Director, Oregonians for Food and Shelter.
  • Betsy Earls, Vice President & Counsel, Associated Oregon Industries.
  • George Hansen, commercial beekeeper, owner of Foothills Honey Company.
  • Rich Little, Master Gardener, Oregon State University Extension Service.
  • Doug Moore, Executive Director, Oregon League of Conservation Voters.
  • Jeff Stone, Executive Director, Oregon Association of Nurseries.
  • Non-voting members: State Senator Chuck Thomsen and State Representative Jeff Reardon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION

To read the Task Force on Pollinator Health’s report, click here.

For more information about the risks of neonicotinoids: Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, http://www.tfsp.info/ Are Neonics Killing Bees? A Review of Research into the Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Bees, with Recommendations for Action, http://www.xerces.org/pesticides/.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The following four photos are all freely available for use by the media,

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Parking lot scattered with bumble bees killed by foraging on the linden trees in Wilsonville, June 2013. Photo by Rich Hatfield, The Xerces Society.

Wilsonville_IMG_2479

A bumble bee clinging to the outside of netting that covers a linden tree, Wilsonville, June 2013. Photo by Mace Vaughn, The Xerces Society.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Landscape crews wrapping linden trees to prevent more bees reaching the flowers, Wilsonville, June 2013. Photo by Mace Vaughn, The Xerces Society.

Wilsonville_Sample jars_03

Dead bumble bees collected from a Wilsonville parking lot in June 2013 for testing in a laboratory. Photo by Matthew Shepherd, The Xerces Society.

THE XERCES SOCIETY FOR INVERTEBRATE CONSERVATION Protecting the Life that Sustains Us

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Since 1971, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs worldwide. To learn more about our work, please visit www.xerces.org.