Bayer CropScience supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision not to require approval of state pollinator protection plans, but rather leave them in the hands of each individual state, Iain Kelly, director of regulatory policy and issue management with the company, said.
The EPA’s decision will assist growers and beekeepers because they are co-dependent on each other: Bees need crops to feed on, and crops need bees for pollination.
“The intent is to bring together growers, beekeepers and other stakeholders, and figure out what would work with their locality and be appropriate within their states,” Kelly said.
Such an arrangement will allow growers and beekeepers to co-exist. “There has been a lot of concern among growers that bee health could limit their access to the tools they depend on to keep their crops healthy, including pollinators,” Kelly said.
Crops that benefit most from honeybees include almonds, apples, blueberries and cranberries.
In some areas, growers are not allowing beekeepers on their land due to a concern about negative publicity over the health of bee populations and the effects pesticides may have on them, Kelly said.
“By having a stable state management system in place, beekeeper and grower will both benefit," Kelly said.
The purpose of leaving it to the states is to allow growers and beekeepers the flexibility to meet the individual needs of crops and bee colonies.
“What works in one state or geographic location might not work in another,” Kelly said.
For example, a particular state might wish to regulate what times pesticides are sprayed on crops. Another example might involve beekeepers placing flags near their hives so growers know exactly where the bees are located. This, in turn, would assist in keeping the bee colonies safe from any potentially dangerous pesticides.
Some beekeepers maintain small hives, and with advanced warning, they could move the hives, if necessary, when growers plan to spray.
“The hope is that without unnecessary, or umbrella regulation, we can make meaningful progress in maintaining healthy bee populations,” he said.