Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Praise President Obama for taking steps to protect and stabilize honeybee colonies
Over the past few decades, pollinator populations such as birds, bats, butterflies, and bees have suffered severe losses, endangering the world’s food supply and wreaking havoc on ecosystems. Fortunately, Washington has finally stepped forward with a strategy for investigating their decline and implementing a plan to reverse this devastating trend. Thank President Obama for creating a team that will look at the harmful role of pesticides, bee nutrition, parasites, pathogens, and genetic diversity, among other possible contributors, and taking measurable steps towards saving the honeybee population from extinction.
According to a White House fact sheet, commercially managed beehives have declined from 6 million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today. Roughly 30% of colonies are lost each winter, about twice the historical average. In addition, a disruption in migration patterns has affected other pollinators such as Monarch butterflies while losses among the natural bee population have not been adequately studied, but are thought to be significant.
The new Pollinator Health Task Force is made up of representatives from more than fourteen federal agencies who will first investigate the causes of colony collapse including the role of neonicotinoid pesticides which have been shown to weaken bees’ immune systems and make them susceptible to infection.
Beyond the environmental consequences, these losses also have severe implications for the economy and threaten to disrupt food production. Pollinators are vital to the production of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Honey bees aid in the production of about 90 crops in North America alone, and about 35% of the global food supply is dependent upon pollinators. The commercial beekeeping industry contributes more than $15 billion to the United States economy annually.
The task force’s research action plan is due in 180 days and will include information on the causes of colony collapse as well as an investigation of alternate practices and technologies that will restore the pollinator population to sustainable levels. This ForceChange petition called for protection for honey bees, and this call was answered. Praise President Obama for acknowledging this dire problem and taking action to reverse it before it’s too late.
Dear President Obama,
Thank you for taking the first measurable steps towards creating a federal action plan to reverse the devastating trend of pollinator loss in the United States. As you know, colony collapse has disastrous effects on the environment, economy, and the global populations’ food supply.
The fruits, nuts, and vegetables that honeybees pollinate are vital sources of nutrition for a global population that consumes an increasingly unhealthy and nutrient-poor diet. Impending commercial honeybee extinction would inevitably increase the price of these naturally healthy foods, contributing to the already-dire nationwide health crisis.
At the end of this 180 days, I urge you to prioritize the health of honeybees and other pollinators above the special interests of pesticide producers who are resistant to change. Don’t hesitate to put protective legislation into place on behalf of honeybees and all of us who benefit from what they do. Thank you for all that you have done so far.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: DoeLay via Flickr