Pollinators play an essential role in the nation’s food supply. We are dependent on bees, flies, moths and other insects to help pollinate crops and other plants. However, some of these insects – bees and wasps in particular – may pose health and safety risks to the public. In fact, stinging insects, which include the yellowjackets and hornets, send an estimated 500,000 people to the hospital every year. In light of this, stinging insects are – as some government entities have deemed them – a public safety hazard.
So how do we, the American public, protect our families and our children, from insects that are both vital and potentially harmful? The answer is carefully. The federal government, farmers, the professional pest management industry, and home and business owners must cooperate to ensure effective tools are available to keep the public safe from stinging insects, yet do so in a manner that will enable pollinators to thrive in appropriate settings.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is working with federal and state regulators, and other stakeholders equally committed to ensuring an appropriate relationship exists between the safety of the American public and the essential role bees play in our environment.
Some of the specific actions NPMA has taken to protect pollinators include:
- Educating Members of Congress about the importance of pollinator protection and encouraging their support for legislation combatting the varroa mite, other parasites and diseases and establishing more forage land;
- Urging Congressional leaders to join the Pollinator Protection Caucus;
- Meeting regularly with senior EPA officials and other key stakeholders to strategize on pollinator protection issues;
- Encouraging USDA Secretary Vilsak to hold a bee foraging summit to address challenges related to adequate nutrition for bees;
- Providing EPA and state agencies with suggestions for label improvements to protect bees during professional applications;
- Supporting the Pollinator Protection Partnership;
- Educating homeowners about pollinators and the importance of preserving honey bee nests;
- Promoting the establishment of pollinator friendly gardens; and
- Educating pest management professionals about best practices related to pollinators.
We remain committed to our leadership role in balancing the protection of pollinators with ensuring the safety of the American public. Both can be accomplished through effective action.