Pollinators - a game of chance that we can't afford

March 4, 2019

Despite the recent cold weather in the Northwest, spring is right around the corner. That means that farmers and orchardists in our region and across the country are getting ready for the growing season. 

What’s one key element to a successful harvest of orchard fruit, nuts, or veggies? Pollinators: bees, butterflies, and other insects.

These insects are vital to our food system, economy, and to ecosystems across the United States. Honey bees and native bees jointly provide U.S. agriculture an estimated $18 to $27 billion in pollination services annually. One in every three bites of food we eat is pollinated by bees.

Unfortunately, they are at serious risk. A recent study published in Biological Conservation noted that largely because of intensive agriculture, and specifically, the heavy use of pesticides, over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction. We could lose 25% of them in the next 10 years. This includes honey bees, native bees, and other pollinators that are critical to our food supply.  And with added stressors like climate change, increased pests that attack bees, loss of habitat and more, pollinators are fighting a tough battle with the deck stacked against them.  

We must do all we can to protect these valuable insects. That’s why I’m reintroducing the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. This legislation will suspend the use of certain insecticides until they are determined to be safe for pollinators. 

Too much is at stake; we can’t afford to be playing a game of chance – or chicken – with potentially dangerous chemicals. Congress must act now to protect our food supply and our nation’s agricultural and ecological health before it’s too late. 


Earl Blumenauer

Member of Congress