The declining honeybee population has caught the attention of numerous scientists and now, the president. Pollinators, especially honeybees and monarch butterflies, have been waning in numbers for years, causing concern about future crop pollination.
President Obama outlined a three-pronged plan to help control, and eventually, reverse the declining populations. The plan calls for the creation of pollinator-friendly habitat, federal grant money to study the problem, and the possibility of reducing pesticide use.
Among the many causes scientists are researching is the role played by pesticides—particularly a class known as neonicotinoids, often applied to crops.
Pesticides are absorbed by plant tissues and then transferred to pollen and nectar. Bees, used to pollinate many different types of crops in the U.S., exhibit a wide range of sensitivities to neonicotinoids, the report said.
Some environmental groups were hoping for a ban on certain pesticides, and say the plan does not do nearly enough. Besides the issue of pesticides, the largest problem identified by the Obama Administration is decreasing bee habitat.
The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat because scientists have worried that large land tracts that grow only one crop have hurt bee nutrition.
The issue appears to have some bipartisan support. According to the Washington Post, Representative Ted Yoho, a conservative Republican from Florida, said the issue is “an essential thing [that] we need to pay attention to.”
One would hope that the preservation of America’s food industry would cross party lines.
[Wall Street Journal] [AP] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Protasov AN/Shutterstock]