A group of U.S. senators has sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the agency to conduct a study of pollinator health before any rulemaking, and include stakeholders and partner agencies in the discussion.
In the letter, the Senators noted that the decline of pollinators requires a comprehensive, science-based investigation to continue food production systems, avoid significant negative economic impacts, and protect the environment.
Pollinators are vital to most fruit, vegetable, and nut production and play a role in nearly $30 billion in economic activity in the U.S. each year.
"As an estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, if there was a significant decline in pollinator populations, it would have a serious impact on our diets, economy, and environment," the letter, signed by a group of 12 senators, said.
A previous USDA-EPA report indicated several factors impact bee losses, including parasites, genetics and nutrition. Some groups also have suggested agricultural pesticides may play a role, though the report recommended additional research.
"Scientists agree there is a complex set of factors that are impacting pollinator populations and any agency actions could have a significant impact on modern production agriculture.
"Therefore, it is essential that EPA works closely with all stakeholders and partner agencies, investigates the entire range of possible impacts on pollinator health, and follows all administrative requirements before completing any potential rulemakings," the letter continued.
Signatories included Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.