Tomorrow, February 11th at the OSU Extension Auditorium in Central Point
Pollinator Project Rogue Valley and Beyond Toxics are offering this forum that combines science & policy for protecting pollinators to ensure their survival – and ours. Keynote presentations, panels, and workshops, will focus on solutions to the decline of native pollinators and the effects neonicotinoids are having on our landscapes and ecosystems.
During the 1990's, genetically-engineered (GE) crops became the way to 'feed the world' and Roundup was the 'so-safe-you-can-drink-it' herbicide-of-choice for combating weeds in both agricultural and landscape settings. Less than a decade later, these same international chemical companies brought us neonicotinoids to further insure 'pest protection' for our farms and gardens.
A class of systemic pesticides with seven different formulations, neonicotinoids (neonics) are now the most widely used insecticide in the world. Some of these formulations are 10,000 times more potent than DDT, and like DDT, are long-lived in the environment. Almost all (non-organic) corn and soybean seeds are coated with a neonic, and products containing neonics are easily available in garden centers. In fact, some nurseries are growing and selling (unlabeled) plants that have been treated with neonics. Testing finds neonics in soils and rivers across the US, and in fruits and vegetables eaten by US consumers.
The most commonly used neonic in a landscape setting is imidacloprid. Go to a garden center to find a remedy for aphids and you will most likely will be handed a bottle that contains 2% imidacloprid and 98% inert ingredients. Application will either be spraying it on the plant or mixing it with water and pouring it in the soil around the plant; either way, the plant will take up the neonic and become toxic to any bug that ingests any part of the plant. Which sounds good if you are trying to get rid of aphids. However, the plant's pollen and nectar are also contaminated, so any insect visiting the plant's flowers will ingest the neonic and might even carry it back to the hive to feed its young. The evidence from numerous scientific studies indicates that neonics are a major contributor to the decline of honey bees, as well as our native bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
We need our pollinators - one out of every three bites of food, and 85% of the plants and trees around us are pollinated by insects and hummingbirds. No pollinators? No blueberries, apples, lavenders, sunflowers, ........
Many cities and states - even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife - have banned or restricted the use of neonics (note that GE crops are also banned on USF&W lands!) The European Union implemented a ban on three neonics in 2012, and Canada is considering implementing a country-wide ban on imidacloprid.
What can we do to protect our pollinators here in Oregon?
Pollinator Project Rogue Valley (PPRV) and Beyond Toxics are sponsoring a forum on February 11th at OSU Extension in Central Point: Protecting Pollinators: Benefits of Ecosystems and Food Security in Oregon. With speakers from The Xerces Society, Pesticide Research Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Trout Unlimited, Beyond Toxics, and others, this will be an excellent opportunity to learn what we can do locally to protect our pollinators.