Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

A SMALL POLLINATOR, A BIG PROBLEM — Millions of bees are dying off every year, and scientists point to a widely used class of pesticides as one of the main causes. 

Our Food Supply Relies On Bees

We have to stop the bee die-off and help this vitally important species recover, for the sake of our food, the environment and our economy. 

Bees are dying in the United States and around the world, and it’s a major problem. We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food. In the U.S. alone, honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops every year. 

We rely on bees to pollinate everything from strawberries to broccoli to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows. Imagine no almonds, less coffee and chocolate, fewer apples and strawberries, less ice cream and milk … the list goes on.

The bottom line: without bees, we don’t have food. 

OUR FAVORITE FOODS — Bees play an important role in pollinating some of our favorite foods, from strawberries and apples to almonds and coffee.

10,000 Times More Toxic To Bees Than DDT 

Scientists point to pesticides as one of the main factors causing bees to die off in alarming numbers, in particular a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics). 

When seeds are treated with neonics, the chemicals work their way into the pollen and nectar of the plants — which, of course, is bad news for bees and other pollinators. 

Worse, neonics are at least 5,000-10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.

Just one example: After a nearby farm planted corn seeds coated with neonics in 2013, farmer Dave Schuit lost 37 million of his bees. “Once the corn started to get planted, our bees died by the millions,” said Schuit.

UNPRECEDENTED LOSSES — In recent years, beekeepers report they’re losing an average 30 percent of all honey bee colonies each winter, twice the amount considered sustainable.

We Can Eliminate These Pesticides

Given the consequences for our farms and our food, you’d think we’d be doing all we can to protect bees and other pollinators from neonics. 

Scientists say that we don’t even need to spray these chemicals, since we have commonsense alternatives like altering the time of planting and watering, and planting more native species.

Yet big agrichemical companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Bayer and Syngenta are fighting to prevent bans. Syngenta has even asked federal regulators for permission to use even larger quantities of these pesticides — as much as 400 times more than currently allowed. 

Alarmed by the role these chemicals are playing in the decline of bee populations, the European Union has banned several of them; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to phasing them out on the public lands they manage; and cities like Seattle and states like Maryland have taken action as well. 

Still, even with evidence showing that neonics need to be banned, we continue to spray about 46 million pounds of these pesticides on our homes, gardens and public spaces every year.

NO SAFE PLACE FOR A BEE TO EXIST — According to a recent study, about three quarters of all honey worldwide is contaminated with pesticides known to harm bees.

It’s Time For States To Take Action

For the past several years, PIRG and other groups have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban these pesticides nationwide, and they have failed to do so. We’re not waiting on the EPA any longer. Now, to protect bees and our food supply, we're calling on states to act.

In order to restore bee populations to health and save our food supply, we need states to ban the sale of bee-killing pesticides for our homes, parks and gardens and ensure that they are not used on state property. 

If enough states take action, we will eliminate the use of more than 40 percent of insecticides used in this country. That’s a lot of bees that we can save — bees that will pollinate our food. 

That kind of collective action will be a strong signal to large chemical companies and the federal government that we want them to stop poisoning our parks, homes and food with these products.

Right now, we’re spraying chemicals that are known to kill bees just as we’re in the midst of an unsustainable die-off in bee populations. That has to change — now.

Join us in calling on your state to take action to protect bees and our food.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Public Health

Mr. Gowda Goes to Annapolis (to garner support for toxic flame retardants bill) | Dev Gowda

This week, I expanded on my usual job of getting personal care product companies to remove toxic chemicals from their products by working to get other toxic products away from consumers. I traveled to Annapolis, MD to support Maryland PIRG’s efforts to pass a bill to ban certain toxic flame retardant chemicals from children’s products.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Our Children’s Cosmetics Should Be Safe | Dev Gowda

When a parent buys something for their child, they shouldn't have to worry about whether that product contains harmful chemicals. Parents assume items on store shelves are safe, and expect that we already have regulations in place to protect kids. But at the start of 2018, national children's retailer Claire's issued a recall of nine makeup products after testing by a law firm found they may contain cancer-causing asbestos fibers.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

A Year In Review: Progress Getting Toxic Chemicals out of Personal Care Products | Dev Gowda

In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of progress to get toxic chemicals out of personal care products and to convince companies to disclose fragrance ingredients. Consumers are at the forefront of making that happen, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to harness consumer preferences and push several companies to do better.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

KIDS' MAKEUP SOLD BY RETAILER CLAIRE'S POTENTIALLY CONTAINS ASBESTOS

National children’s retailer Claire’s has issued a recall of nine makeup products after reports surfaced they may contain cancer-causing asbestos fibers. The makeup contained traces of asbestos, according to a law firm which tested the products. Asbestos is not used commercially in makeup, but can be found as a contaminant in talc, a common ingredient in cosmetics. Sparkly, shimmery, and powdery makeup often contains talc as a major ingredient. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Personal Care Product "Trade Secrets" Are Hurting Consumers | Dev Gowda

The new shampoos, hand creams, soaps and body washes we unwrapped this holiday season smell like roses, chamomile, lavender, springtime.

But the fragrances that fill many of our bottles and bars are far from natural, and because of a lack of transparency in labeling, we could be “cleaning” our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental issues and even lead to cancer.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Statement on Unilever Starting to Disclose Fragrances via SmartLabel

Statement from U.S. PIRG Toxics Advocate Dev Gowda on Unilever Starting to Disclose Fragrances via SmartLabel

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

CA Assembly Passes Bill to Disclose Toxic Chemicals in Cleaning Products

Cleaning shouldn't harm anyone's health. But for far too long we've been kept in the dark about health-harming chemicals used in cleaning supplies. Today the California state Assembly passed SB 258, The Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act. 

> Keep Reading

High Levels of Lead Found in Fidget Spinners

WITI FOX6 News in Milwaukee recently tested certain fidget spinners for lead and according to the lab results, four fidget spinners bought from high-profile online and retail stores contained alarmingly high levels of lead. One fidget spinner contained a part that was found to be more than 400 times the legal limit for lead. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Lessons From Harvey: Mapping Out Toxic Sites In Hurricane Irma’s Path

A map of potential toxic sites and a statement by Kara Cook-Schultz, Toxics Program Director for U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund and Florida PIRG Education Fund.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Looking Forward After Katrina

We have developed a quick snapshot of some of the environmental health problems in the wake of the hurricane, as well as recommendations for governmental officials to take into account as they move forward.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Needless Risk

Across the country, petroleum refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities use and store large amounts of hazardous chemicals that, if subject to an accident or attack, would release dangerous toxins.  Such releases could injure or kill thousands of people that live in communities in close proximity to these facilities. Petroleum refineries stand as a stark example of the unnecessary risk posed by such facilities in the event of an attack or accident as well as the opportunity to mitigate this risk by using safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Raising Risk

Although genetically engineered crops are still poorly understood, corporations and universities are growing them experimentally in the open environment with little oversight and public notification. Contrary to assertions made by proponents of the technology, genetic engineering is not precise. Scientists cannot control where the gene is inserted into the host’s genetic code, nor guarantee stable expression of the gene in the new genetically engineered organism.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Duty To Disclose

Scientists in the United States and abroad continue to raise serious concerns about the environmental and human health risks associated with growing and consuming genetically engineered crops. As a result, genetically engineered foods may pose financial risks to the food companies buying and selling genetically engineered crops.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Voters in Seven California Counties Consider Banning Genetically Engineered Agriculture

In March 2004, despite industry spending $700,000 in opposition, Mendocino County passed Measure H, which makes it unlawful to cultivate or raise any genetically engineered crops or animals. As a result of Mendocino County’s success, seven other counties in California are poised to make decisions to also prohibit genetically engineered agriculture this fall.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Public Health

New court documents allege that Monsanto wrote scientific studies affirming Roundup’s safety | Anna Low-Beer

Newly-accessible court papers allege that Monsanto manufactured scientific studies affirming the safety of their star product, Roundup, and paid a scientist to publish them.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

If It Looks Like a Chicken and Walks Like a Chicken | Steve Blackledge

Earlier this week, Tyson Foods announced another big step toward stopping the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms. The announcement underscores a larger trend that’s been happening for a few years now; consumer pressure is helping to drive important public health changes in the marketplace. To be sure, there are laggards on the antibiotics front (see our recent blog on KFC), but perhaps no company has lagged as aggressively and proudly as Sanderson Farms. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Chicken Industry Moves Further Away From Antibiotics, but KFC Still Chickens Out | Matt Wellington

Bravo, Tyson Foods! Today the company announced its plan to eliminate antibiotics in the chickens raised for its brand name chicken offerings (breasts, wings, and nuggets). This move by the largest U.S. meat company (in revenue), is indicative of a larger paradigm shift in the chicken industry.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Lead: the sneaky ingredient in your lipstick and lotion | Anna Low-Beer

Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration announced new guidelines for the level of lead allowed in lipstick and other cosmetics. I know what you’re thinking: isn’t there already a rule that says that lead -- a toxic heavy metal -- is not permitted in the products we apply to our bodies? Sadly, because of weak and outdated federal regulations, the FDA does not currently limit lead levels in cosmetics. And it’s not a small problem -- the FDA tested hundreds of lipsticks from popular brands in 2012, and found lead in every single one.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

In the Bid to Save Antibiotics, Are Drug Companies Allies or Enablers? | Jeremy Flood

While many hospitals have begun developing antibiotic stewardship programs and adopting strict policies in clinical settings, the routine overuse of antibiotics in meat production continues to quietly thrive as a multi-billion dollar industry.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

DEFEND THE CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

Support Us

Your donation supports U.S. PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code