CropLife America Stresses Importance of Practical Pollinator Research

6/19/2014

CropLife America (CLA) recognizes National Pollinator Week, reinforces the importance of pollinators in U.S. agriculture, and stresses the need for practical research on improving pollinator health, particularly including the influence and responsible management of the varroa mite.

"As discussions around pollinator health continue at the regulatory level, it is critical that we focus on finding workable solutions," said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. "Many in the beekeeping and scientific community have confirmed that the varroa mite is the most harmful pest to honeybees. CLA hopes to see more research conducted on the varroa mite, as well as potential tactics that incorporate the use of specialized crop protection products. Miticides that are responsibly applied in bee colonies offer a potential solution for controlling mites without harming honeybees."

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a summit dedicated to discussing the impacts of the varroa mite on the health of honeybees. Various stakeholders shared knowledge and perspectives surrounding the varroa mite, reviewed research and recommended future research priorities to improve management and mitigation tactics.

The House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture also convened a public hearing in April to discuss approaches to managing potential threats to pollinators. Witness testimonies during the hearing confirmed some of the primary factors affecting pollinators, including parasitic varroa mites. Beekeeping management practices, lack of adequate nutrition and forage, various diseases and pesticide applications were also discussed during the hearing. In his testimony, USDA research leader Dr. Jeffery Pettis noted, "One of the biggest problems facing honeybees and beekeepers today is the varroa mite."

Pollinators are a vital part of U.S. agriculture, and it is estimated that they directly impact 35 percent of the world's agriculture. Bees are responsible for pollinating grapes, strawberries, avocados and cucumbers, among many other food crops. Approximately one-third of the crops used to produce foods and beverages are dependent on pollinators. CLA supports the public television series "America's Heartland" in hosting an online educational resource that highlights the connection between pollinators and agriculture, available at www.americasheartland.org/pollinators/index.htm.

In addition to practical bee research, CLA supports other pollinator-focused initiatives such as advocating best stewardship practices of crop protection products; increasing pollinator habitat and forage; advancing education and outreach activities; and participating in public and private partnerships to promote pollinator health. CLA is a member of the newly formed Honey Bee Health Coalition, a diverse, multi-stakeholder group focused on improving the health of honeybees and other pollinators.

For more information about pollinator health and the crop protection industry, visit www.croplifeamerica.org/pesticide-issues/protecting-our-pollinators.