From apples to zucchini, bees alone pollinate $15 billion worth of U.S. crops every year. But bees are dying—an alarming 40 percent of honeybee colonies collapsed from spring 2017 to 2018, and more and more of our 4,000-plus species of wild bees, like the rusty patched bumblebee, are edging toward extinction.
While climate change, habitat loss, and disease all play a role in the rate of colony collapse, mounting scientific evidence links the recent dramatic spike in bee deaths to the rise of neonic (short for neonicotinoid) pesticides—now the most heavily used insecticides in the United States. Neonics can kill bees on contact and at even very low exposures harm their ability to navigate, forage, and reproduce. These chemicals also easily spread through soil and water, and can be absorbed by wild plants, making the pollen and nectar poisonous to bees and other pollinators.
The world is taking notice: The European Union voted to ban outdoor uses of neonics, and Canada is also moving to significantly curtail its use of the chemical. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration has failed to act. That’s why NRDC is putting pressure on the EPA, both in and out of court. We’re also working with states to promote smart pesticide policies and build pollinator habitat, while pushing major retailers to take neonic products and neonic-treated plants off their shelves. We must end the pollinator crisis before it’s too late.