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Petitioning Secretary, USDA Tom Vilsack

Urge the Department of Agriculture to act now to save bees

Although honey bees are crucial to producing about one-third of all the food we eat, the Department of Agriculture has failed to meet crucial research needs to determine the cause of colony collapse disorder, which is devastating hives across the country. Urge the Department of Agriculture to act now to save bees.

Letter to
Secretary, USDA Tom Vilsack
I am concerned by the threat that colony collapse disorder poses to honey bees, beekeepers, farmers and our food supply. As you know, bees are a critical agricultural resource that help produce $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year. Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, has led to the decline of hives across the country and put numerous crops at risk.

Most bee experts believe bees could be falling sick due to a combination of factors, including pesticide exposure, invasive parasitic mites, an inadequate food supply and a new virus that targets bees' immune systems. We must act quickly to determine the true causes of the bees' distress and find solutions to this threat.

Focused research on CCD is essential to solving the problem. It is encouraging that Congress granted the Department of Agriculture emergency funds for addressing CCD in 2007. But I am disappointed that USDA representatives are unable to fully account for how these funds have been used or what further funds are needed. 

I urge you to ensure that the Department of Agriculture takes full advantage of the funds available for researching causes and identifying solutions to CCD. The department should also determine and inform Congress the level of additional funds needed to address CCD and make a full report to the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Subcommittee, as requested, on its progress to date on vital CCD research tasks.

Honey bees are a valuable agricultural commodity, and their diminishing numbers deserve concerted research and resources. Please do all you can to ensure that the U.S. government addresses this growing threat to our food supply and economy.

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