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Organic Consumers Association

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OCA's Save the Bees Campaign

Seattle Joins the Growing List of Cities to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Honey Bee Health page, Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Washington News page.

 Last week, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on land owned or maintained by the city. Neonicotinoid insecticides have been linked to colony collapse disorder (CCD) and declining bee health that has resulted in a near devastating decline in viable managed beehives, which are critical to pollination of one-third of the nation's food supply. Seattle is the largest city thus far to enact such a ban to protect pollinators in the absence of federal regulation. Other localities taking action include Skagway, Alaska, Eugene, Oregon and Spokane, Washington and dozens of other jurisdictions that have adopted organic land management practices or pesticide bans on  public land, private land, parks, schools, and other land under their authority.

Resolution 31548, adopted and expected to be signed by Mayor Ed M.urray, states that the City of Seattle shall ban the purchase and use of neonicotinoids on city-owned property and calls for a national moratorium on the use of the toxic pesticides, urging the White House Task Force, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Congress to suspend the registration of neonicotinoids. Along with encouraging federal action, the resolution asks retailers within Seattle to stop selling plants, seeds or any other products that contains neonicotinoids.

"This is a modest step to help protect bees and other pollinators, which help make the Emerald City blossom every spring," said Councilmember Mike O'Brien. "I hope the City's move helps raise awareness about what we can all be doing to promote the health of pollinators through sustainable pest management practices."

This success can be attributed to activists who raised community awareness and began a petition drive that collected over over 4,300 signatures and was supported by 24 organizations. Of these groups, Central Co-Op and Seattle Sierra Club led the charge and drafted the original petition.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. Moving through the plant's vascular system and expressing themselves through pollen and nectar, these systemic pesticides include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. A large and growing body of science continues to link recent global bee die-offs to neonicotinoids, which are applied to or incorporated into seeds for agricultural, ornamental and garden plants. Beekeepers across the country reported losses of 40-90 percent of their bees last winter.    

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