Industry decisions matter. So when Ortho, a division of Scotts, voluntarily decided to phase out the controversial class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (a.k.a. neonics) in order to save bees, we were hopeful that other companies would follow their lead. Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. They include imidacloprid, which has been implicated in killing bees and pollinators. But instead of other companies acting responsibly, they have gone into defense mode. Bayer put out a blog mocking Ortho for their bold action. Bayer stated “With hundreds of studies conducted, we know more about neonics and bees than any other pesticide, and new research continues to confirm their safe use around bees when used according to the label.” Well, that’s simply a lie. Here’s a quote from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about their assessment released in January 2016, “EPA’s assessment, prepared in collaboration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, indicates that imidacloprid potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators…The preliminary risk assessment identified a residue level for imidacloprid of 25 ppb, which sets a threshold above which effects on pollinator hives are likely to be seen, and at that level and below which effects are unlikely. These effects include decreases in pollinators as well as less honey produced.”
This means EPA’s analysis of detailed tests found that a specific concentration of the pesticide imidacloprid adversely impacts bees. If nectar brought back to the hive from worker bees had more than 25 parts per billion of the chemical, "there's a significant effect," namely fewer bees, less honey and "a less robust hive," said Jim Jones, EPA's assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention.
So here’s a radical idea, Bayer should stop lying and start phasing out neonics just like Scotts and Ortho did. We need honey bees and pollinators, more than Bayer needs toxic pesticides to make money. They can change their products. We cannot change our global ecosystem and the role of bees in our food supply.