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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Massive Bumblebee Die-Off Prompts Temporary Pesticide Ban in Oregon

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Alex Pietrowski

In what may be the single largest mass bumblebee die-off on record, some 50,000 plus bees were recently found littering the parking lot of a Target store in Wilsonville, Oregon recently after a landscaping company sprayed surrounding trees with the insecticide Safari. Concerning shoppers and the community, the event also raised significant alarm amongst the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which has now enacted a temporary ban on the pesticide used in this incident, and for an additional 17 other insecticide products containing the chemical dinotefuran.

Dinotefuran, a popular insecticide found in agricultural, professional and household products is an insecticide of the neonicotinoid class, a class of insecticides widely suspected to be the primary cause of the global bee and pollinator die-off we are witnessing today. Neonicotinoids include a number of other insecticides other than dinotefuran, and have for decades been suspected of being especially dangerous to bees:

Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. They includeimidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. According to the EPA, uncertainties have been identified since their initial registration regarding the potential environmental fate and effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly as they relate to pollinators. Studies conducted in the late 1990s suggest that neonicotinic residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants and represent a potential risk to pollinators. [Beyond Pesticides]
Representing over 300 colonies and many potential future queen bees, the Oregon die-off has caused considerable alarm and the Oregon department of health is acting swiftly:
To prevent another bee killing, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is also temporarily banning the use of 18 pesticide products. Pesticides containing dinotefuran can no longer be used on plants, or at least not until the ban is lifted. 
ODA officials said they’re acting “in an abundance of caution” in issuing the ban. Director Katy Coba said she hopes the decision minimizes the potential for more bee deaths connected to pesticide products while the state continues to investigate and gather information. – Fox
This is certainly encouraging news, yet oddly enough dinotefuran products and other neonicotinoids will still be available for sale in Oregon and only licensed pesticide applicators will be liable in this ban.
“We’re not trying to get it off the shelves, or trying to tell people to dispose of it, we’re just telling people not to use it,” said Bruce Pokarney, a spokesperson for the department of agriculture. [Oregon Live]
The mindset behind this action is telling, especially when considering the gravity of the implications of a global collapse in pollinators. If the single largest bee die-off in history, known to have been directly caused by neonicotinoid insecticides, doesn’t prompt a more thorough and meaningful ban on the widespread use of these dangerous chemicals, then what will it take?

The complete list of temporarily banned products can be seen here:


Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for and an avid student of Yoga and life.

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