Target: Dr. Kay Simmons, Deputy Administrator for Crop Production and Protection, United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service
Goal: Invest money into promising new study that could help save the honeybee from extinction
Honeybees are the pollinators of the world. Because of the honeybee, widespread farming and food production has been able to happen. However, over the years honeybee populations have been dropping due to a problem referred to now as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The exact cause of this disorder is unclear, but pesticides, a keystone of modern agricultural practices, are definitely a main contributor.
However, complete elimination of pesticides would be an extremely hard sell to farmers. Trying to manage unwanted pests is one of the biggest problems a farm will come across, and pesticides keep most of pests away. However, contributing to honeybee decline is not something the world can afford to do any longer.
With that being said, the recent completion of one study could potentially allow the struggling honeybees and farmers to compromise. This study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that a pesticide whose main ingredient was spider venom did not affect the honeybees in a negative way.
Scientists combined spider venom with a protein called lectin taken from snowdrop plants to create something that simulates what spiders use their own venom for-targeting specific prey, such as potato beetles, aphids, and army worms.
The research should not just stop here. Successful studies are repeated multiple times to make sure that the first go around was not just a fluke. With an issue as timely as honeybee extinction, no more time can be wasted. More research into these findings needs to begin now. Help us ask the Deputy Administrator for the Crop Production and Protection branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest money into furthering this research.
Dear Dr. Kay Simmons,
As your title suggests, surely your knowledge of the threats to continued successful crop production is extensive. If the honeybee decline is not at the top of your list, it should be. As the honeybee numbers continue to drop and little action in response continues to parallel their decline, your job, which is protecting and producing crops, will get much harder.
The honeybee problem is a problem that needs government interference in order to be fixed. As a recent study suggests, there may be pesticides made from spider venom that would not threaten the honeybee species. However, money and attention is needed in order to continue researching this new pesticide. This is where your department comes in. Please use your power to put this promising new development on the agenda so that maybe one day farmers can farm without destroying our natural pollinators.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Erik Hooymans via Wikimedia Commons