200,000 Americans urge Michelle Obama to save bees from toxic pesticides
Virtual swarm buzzes White House garden tour
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the heels of the 2015 White House garden tour, more than fifty beekeepers, farmer workers and environmental and consumer organizations sent a letter and petitions signed by more than 200,000 Americans to Michelle Obama, urging the First Lady to publicly commit to ensuring the White House gardens and grounds are free of bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides and use her influence to encourage the Obama administration to take meaningful steps to protect pollinators from these pesticides.
Advocates swarmed the garden tour Saturday to deliver the message in person and joined a virtual “swarm,” sending messages and pictures to the First Lady’s Twitter account.
“The bees can’t wait. The First Lady must stand up for bees and urge meaningful action on bee-toxic pesticides in her backyard and beyond if she wants to ensure healthy and affordable food for America’s children and families,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
“President Obama must not miss this opportunity to act,” said Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. “The science is clear. Neonicotinoids are harmful to pollinators, and without pollinators, the U.S. food supply is at risk. We call on the First Lady today to protect bees in her garden from bee-toxic pesticides and set an example for the nation.”
More than 4 million Americans have signed petitions to the Obama administration demanding immediate restrictions on bee-toxic pesticides. The White House Task Force on Pollinator Health is expected to release a plan for bee protection in the near future. This plan is required by a Presidential Memorandum, issued by President Obama in June 2014, which called for a federal strategy to protect pollinators and called on the EPA to assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days.
On April 2, the EPA announced a moratorium on new or expanded uses of neonicotinoids while it evaluates the risks posed to pollinators. In October, 2014, the Council on Environmental Quality issued guidance for federal facilities and federal lands which included acquiring seeds and plants from nurseries that do not treat these items with systemic insecticides.
In response to a campaign by Friends of the Earth and allies, more than twenty garden stores, nurseries, and landscaping companies, including Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) and Home Depot (NYSE: HD), the two largest home improvement retailers in the world, and BJ’s Wholesale Club have taken steps to restrict neonicotinoid plants and products in their stores. Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) has taken similar steps.
The 200,000 signatures were collected by Credo Action, Friends of the Earth U.S. and Organic Consumers Association.
Expert contact: Tiffany Finck-Haynes, (202) 222-0715, [email protected]