The Trump administration has now reversed an Obama administration ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and genetically modified crops on national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. The move threatens pollinators like bees and butterflies along with a host of other wildlife species that depend on the health of these refuge habitats. This change in policy revokes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014 policy prohibiting the use of toxic “neonic” insecticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on refuges.
Human sustenance hangs upon the health and vitality of bees and other key pollinators. Over the last few years wild bees have been disappearing from all the most important farmlands in the United States: California’s Central Valley, the Midwest’s corn belt, and the Mississippi River valley. In fact, pollinators are facing existential threats around the globe, struggling to survive as their habitats are destroyed by both systemic pesticides and climate change which throws off once-reliable weather patterns.
Under the Obama administration Democrats moved to give pollinators a measure of life support. They authored bills to increase funding and to begin to improve cooperation among federal agencies supporting pollinator health. They also set goals for the USDA and other agencies of conserving, restoring, or enhancing 3 million acres of forage habitat — i.e. fields of flowering plants and shrubs and began to offer financial incentives for farmers to plant bee-friendly plants — including wildflowers, sunflowers, buckwheat, and native grasses, using natural predators, instead of pesticides, to ward off pests.
But now these first few steps in the right direction are being undermined by the Trump administratio, threatening not just American but global food security. While roughly 75% of global food crops depend on Pollinators they have suffered devastating losses over the last few years as a result of unchecked industrial agriculture. Scientists cite the us of pesticides (notably neonicotinoids), as playing a major role in their demise.