Neonicotinoids, a particular class of pesticide, have been widely linked to declining bee populations and were recently determined to have been the cause of dramatic and ongoing bee kills in both Wilsonville and Hillsboro, Oregon.
Blumenauer's bill, the Save America's Pollinators Act of 2013, is co-sponsored by Representative John Conyers (D-MI). It specifically targets systemic pesticides registered for use in seed applications, soil applications, or foliar spray on plants that are attractive to bees. If passed, EPA would have 180 days to restrict these uses. They would also be required to work with the U.S. Department of the Interior to report on the current status of bee populations in the United States, and to monitor more closely the changes in population levels.
"It's encouraging to see lawmakers responding seriously to this issue and proposing real solutions," said Josh Vincent of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, an organization supporting the bill. "These pesticides have drawn a lot of scrutiny from beekeepers, scientists, and environmentalists because of their increasingly evident impact on bees. We agree that EPA needs to take a closer look at the effects these chemicals are having, and that they need to do it sooner rather than later."
Supporters of the bill, including other advocacy groups like the Xerces Society and the Center for Food Safety, are now organizing to grow momentum in the House of Representatives.