Bulgarian Beekeepers Protest Use of Bee-Killing Pesticides

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 17, 2013.  Beekeepers in Bulgaria are revving up protests calling for a moratorium on the use of pesticides hazardous to bees, with a nationwide demonstration scheduled for Earth Day on April 22. The beekeepers are citing European and Bulgarian studies saying that neonicotinoid pesticides harm the immune systems of bees, shortening their lives and aggravating the mass disappearance of bee colonies.

manybeesAt an April 10 march, beekeeper Hristo Stoikov told Bulgarian National Television that in the past three years close to 60 percent of the bee population had disappeared. If the government failed to act, Bulgaria would be left with no bees. Separate reports said that about 200, 000 bees died in Bulgaria in 2012, about 20 per cent of the country’s bee population.

The Union of Bulgarian Beekeepers is citing European and Bulgarian studies saying that neonicotinoid pesticides harm the immune systems of bees, shortening their lives and aggravating the mass disappearance of bee colonies. Beekeepers are upset that in the most recent European Union (EU)-level vote on banning the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides – clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid, Bulgaria was among countries that abstained.

At the beginning of 2013, the European Commission asked EU member states to prohibit the use of certain pesticides on sunflower, canola, corn and cotton. This was prompted by a recent report by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) which concluded that the neonicotinoid pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honey bees. However, the EU vote on the two year ban proposal of the three pesticides failed to gain a majority vote. Thirteen countries voted in favor, nine against, and the rest, including Bulgaria, Germany and the UK, abstained. The Commission is expected to redraft its proposals ahead of another vote. There are already some restrictions in place in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.

While evidence that certain pesticides are devastating bee populations, Bulgarian beekeepers are insisting on the moratorium, saying that Italy had the same problem, but after it introduced a ban bee populations increased. Earlier this month, members of parliament in the United Kingdom (UK) called for support of the two-year moratorium on the bee-killing pesticides, rebuking their government for relying on “fundamentally flawed” studies and failing to uphold its own precautionary principle, saying that the UK must suspend the use of the pesticides linked to serious harm in bees.

Meanwhile, pesticides makers, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, proposed an action plan to forestall pending EU restrictions on their neonicotinoid products linked to global bee declines. Stating that a ban on their products would not save hives, the plan focuses on implementing agricultural best management practices, planting habitat, and new research and development, all of which fail to seriously address the real problem that their products are highly toxic to bees.

With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other insects for pollination, the decline of honey bees due to pesticides, disease, pathogens, and a synergistic effect of other variables has prompted action from organizations around the world. Indeed, an abundance of scientific research has been released within the last year that convincingly link neonicotinoids to declines in honey bee health, honey bee deaths, and increases in bee disappearance during foraging.

On March 21, 3013, Beyond Pesticides joined beekeepers, environmental and consumer groups in filing a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides. The coalition seeks suspension of the registrations of insecticides -clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills, and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The suit challenges EPA’s oversight of these bee-killing pesticides, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies. See Press Release. Read the 2013 Lawsuit, Appendix A: Clothianidin, Appendix B: Thiamethoxam.

Sources: The Sofia Globe, http://www.beyondpesticides.org