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USDA indefinitely suspends honey bee tracking survey as states get approval to use bee-killing pesticide

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“Yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity, and the public interest writ large.”

On the heels of the EPA’s June approval of a bee-killing pesticide, the White House said it would stop collecting data on declining honey bee populations—potentially making it impossible to analyze the effects of the chemical and the administration’s other anti-science policies on the pollinators.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited budget cuts when it said Saturday that it wouldindefinitely suspend data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies report, which has been compiled every year since 2015. The report helps scientists and farmers to assess the decline of honey bees, which are responsible for pollinating one in every three bites of food taken by humans.

“We need some sort of thermometer to be able to determine, at a big scale, are we actually helping to turn around hive loses, to turn around pollinator declines. Understanding what’s going on with honey bees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”
—Mace Vaughan, Xerxes Society
The number of honey bee hives in the U.S. dropped from about six million in 1947 to just 2.4 million in 2008, with 2018 being the worst year on record for hive loss. Beekeepers reported last year that 40 percent of honey bee hives had collapsed, due to a combination of factors including the use of pesticides.

Scientists say continuously monitoring the health of honey bee hives in vital to understanding why and how they are in decline.

“The value of all these surveys is its continuous use over time so you can compare trend lines,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, told CNN.

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“We need some sort of thermometer to be able to determine, at a big scale, are we actually helping to turn around hive loses, to turn around pollinator declines,” Mace Vaughan of the Pollinator Conservation Program at Xerces Society told the outlet. “Understanding what’s going on with honey bees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”

The decision to suspend the data collection came just a few weeks after the administrationapproved the so-called “emergency” use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on nearly 14 million acres. The pesticide, sold under the brand names Closer and Transform, was banned in 2015 after a lawsuit by beekeepers and farmers, but the administration used a loophole in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, granting an exemption to 11 states for four to six years.

“This administration has been grossly abusing this exemption to allow the use of this one pesticide called sulfoxaflor on a vast acreage year after year,” Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the Center for Biological Diverity, told EcoWatch.

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Friends of the Earth called the approval of the pesticide “inexcusable.”

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Brianna Westbrook, a progressive candidate for U.S. Congress in 2018, sarcastically wrote on social media that it was likely “a coincidence” that the decision to stop collecting data on bee colonies came just after the sulfoxaflor approval.

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The suspension of the Honey Bee Colonies report represents President Donald Trump’s allegiance to the powerful corporations behind dangerous pesticides, said critics, and his refusal to institute and continue programs aimed at furthering public health.

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity, and the public interest writ large,” Rebecca Boehm, an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNN.

“This might seem minor,” said former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, “but it’s another example of Trump’s administration prioritizing profit over our wellbeing.”

Julia Conley, staff writer

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New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion

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New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.

Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.

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Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."

Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.

Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.

Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.

Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!

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‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener

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Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."

"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.

"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.

She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."

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