U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have written a March 14, 2016, letter
requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) act on recommendations
contained in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on bee
health.

Summarizing federal initiatives designed to improve bee health and
protect pollinator populations, the report calls on USDA to “coordinate
with other agencies to develop a plan to monitor wild, native bees, and
evaluate gaps in staff expertise in conservation practices.” In particular,
GAO recommends that USDA redouble its efforts with the White House
Pollinator Health Task Force to “develop a mechanism, such as a federal
monitoring plan, that would (1) establish roles and responsibilities of
lead and support agencies, (2) establish shared outcomes and goals, and
(3) obtain input from relevant stakeholders, such as states.” According
to the report, USDA should also update the categories of bees in the
Current Research Information System to reflect those in the Pollinator
Health Task Force’s research action plan; institute measures to track
conservation program acres; and evaluate the effectiveness of plans to
restore bee habitats.

The GAO report also urges EPA to (i) determine whether the most
common mixtures of pesticides used on crops “pose greater risks than
the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides”; (ii) “develop
a plan for obtaining data from pesticide registrants on the effects of
pesticides on non-honey bee species”; and (iii) “provide Congress and the
public with accurate information about the schedules for completing the
registration reviews for existing pesticides.”

Meanwhile, Boxer, Feinstein and Gillibrand have voiced support for these
actions, calling for the extension of the Pollinator Health Task Force
beyond the current administration. They also ask EPA to extend the use
of “bee advisory boxes” on pesticide labels “in order to increase consumer
and user awareness of the proper, effective application for pesticides
and best practices for their use, for both commercial and homeowner
pesticide users.” As the letter concludes, “Protecting honeybees and
other pollinators is a critical function, and the federal government must
continue building upon the progress underway since the task force was
created in 2014.”

 

Issue 598

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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