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The Pollinator Connection: Ways you can bee engaged

Bees are critical pollinators.

By Kristina Lefever for the Tidings November 1, 2018 ~

I love the “Engage Ashland” idea recently put forward by the city. Yes, Ashland (and other places) are so much improved when residents engage and do things. So, this column is a riff on that idea, offering several more ways to “get engaged.”

First, I’d like to thank Nina Egert for her investigations and writings about the use of pesticides for mosquitoes, weeds, and more, in several of her recent Act Locally columns in the Tidings. The topic of pesticides is definitely engaging a lot of folks, especially after several recent news stories.

Did you hear about the study that confirmed that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, does harm honey bees? Proponents of Roundup have long assured us that bees and other creatures cannot be harmed by Roundup because non-plant species do not have the same biology as plants, because the “pathway” in plants that glyphosate targets (the shikimate pathway) is missing. And that is almost true.

But, as the team led by Dr. Nancy Moran discovered, beneficial microbes living in honey bee stomachs and intestines contain the shikamate pathway! So when a bee ingests or is exposed to field levels of Roundup, its immune system becomes compromised, making it much more susceptible to pathogens — and pesticides, too. So even if a bee is not killed outright, its lifespan and progeny could be affected.

And it’s not just bees. Hopefully by now you’ve heard that, even following appeal, the landmark verdict against Bayer (Monsanto) was upheld, confirming that their flagship product, Roundup, was indeed a cause of Mr. Johnson’s cancer. And there are almost 9,000 similar cases on the docket against the chemical company.

Let’s bee engaged — let’s ask: Why is Roundup still on store shelves, and why are people still using it and other products that contain glyphosate?

I recently engaged with both Ashland’s City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission, and also KSKQ’s Honey Culture radio, on another issue that everyone needs to know about: Section 9101 in the House version of the proposed Farm Bill. If this provision remains in the final Farm Bill, it will:

1. Preempt cities and counties from adopting pesticide regulations on their own property; and