CATCH THE BUZZ – Pesticides, or Habitat Loss?

Over 100 scientists worldwide, citing 800 studies, are demanding that the Obama administration follow Europe’s lead and put a moratorium on the use of a new-style pesticide blamed for the deaths of 30 percent of American honeybees every year.

In a letter to the EPA and Agriculture Department, the scientists said there is overwhelming evidence from 800 studies that the pesticide family called neonicotinoids are to blame for the substantial declines in honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies, all pollinators needed to help farmers produce billions of dollars worth of food every year.

“The 108 signers of this letter therefore urge you to take immediate action to protect bees and other pollinators, particularly from pesticides known to be harmful,” said the letter provided to Secrets.

Despite actions by the European Union and some U.S. cities and states to limit use of the “neonics,” the administration is taking a go-slow approach.

“We share concerns about the decrease in the honey bee population, without question,” EPA Director Gina McCarthy told Secrets during a recent media roundtable sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

She seemed to blame the decade-long die-off of bees on development. “There are a number of factors that need to be considered, a lot of it could be attributable to habitat loss, and much of it might be,” she said.

McCarthy added that the EPA, under President Obama’s direction, is looking into the issue and holding listening sessions around the nation, but is not ready to act until the agency has thoroughly studied the science of the pesticides.

“There is no resolution off the table,” she said. But, she added, the agency won’t be “quick to judge.”

The scientists, from schools such as Harvard University and University of California, and as far away as Germany, however, said the issue has already been studied. They cited a June 2014 worldwide review of 800 studies by 29 independent researches that blamed the bee kills on neonics, which are typically treated on seeds and can stay in the ground for years.

They are blamed for disrupting the homing ability of bees heading back to the hive, a key issue on Colony Collapse Disorder.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com