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By Mikael Thalen, Secrets of the Fed

The Xerces Society, an Oregon based conservation group, is calling for a ban on cosmetic insecticides following the largest bumblebee die-off on record.

Last week, an estimated 50,000 bumblebees died from acute pesticide poisoning, after landscapers at a Wilsonville shopping center in Oregon sprayed over 55 Linden trees with the “Safari” insecticide. Despite the directions warning against spraying trees while flowers were blooming, the landscapers failed to read the instructions.


“I’ve never seen any sort of a die-off of bumblebees on this scale,” said Xerces Pollinator Conservation Program Director Mace Vaughan.

Although the Oregon Department of Agriculture covered the 55 trees with special nets to keep the insects away, bees are still dying in the area.

“This particular pesticide isn’t just a residue on the surface. It gets taken into the plant, comes out in the pollen, in the nectar and it gets handed to bees and other pollinators basically on a platter,” said Vaughan.

The Xerces Society is now attempting to work with local lawmakers to ban chemicals that are only used for cosmetic purposes.

“In terms of what we would like to see, legislators, regulators, and municipal leaders across the country should ban the use of neonicotinoids and other insecticides for cosmetic purposes,” said Xerces Executive Director Scott Hoffman Black.

“At a broader level, it is time for the Environmental Protection Agency to re-assess the ecological safety of neonicotinoids and immediately suspend any product registrations that were made with incomplete data.”

While scientists attempt to work with the local government, other Oregon residents are attempting to boycott the use of pesticides all together in their own neighborhoods.

Organic gardener and landscape designer Mulysa Melco has taken matters into her own hands and successfully rallied over 200 of her neighbors to go pesticide free. She hopes to get her neighborhood of more than 2,500 homes to join.

In light of the growing number of studies showing the dangers of insecticides to humans and nature alike, Americans have began voting with their dollars. Organic food sales in the US have grown by $16 billion since 2004, a trend that is likely to continue growing.

This article was written by Mikael Thalen and published in Secrets of the Fed.  Photo by Hans Van Reneen/Flickr.

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