Bees and other pollinators are essential for our livelihoods.90% of the globally produced food relies on bee-pollination. Without pollinators, our diet would be poor, based on rice, grain, maize, and only very few fruits and vegetables.However, for the past few decades, we have been witnessinga violent loss of wild pollinators and the honeybee colonies across the world.
Slow Food has been among 100 European civil society organizations, advocating for political changes concerning European agriculture and its impact on biodiversity. With the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” organizations aim to collect 1 million signatures to be able to call on the European Commission to introduce legal proposals to phase out synthetic pesticides, restore biodiversity and support farmers in the transition.
Slow Food, along with more than 80 civil society organizations in a joint letter to the European Commission, asks to phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035, restore biodiversity, and support farmers in their transition towards agroecology. The letter has been sent to the Commission’s directorate-generals, responsible for the implementation of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies and to Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans.
Temperatures are rising and so are the oceans. Fires are decimating forests and lakes are drying up. The intensity, as well as frequency, of droughts and hurricanes, are predicted to escalate. And as if this weren’t enough, the climate crisis is claiming the lives of the world’s most efficient pollinators – bumblebees. Research from the University of Ottawa, which focused on 66 bumblebee species across North America and Europe, revealed that extreme temperatures and changes in precipitation are risking their survival. One is half as likely to spot a bumblebee in places where they were once a ubiquitous sight – and this has happened within one human generation.
Despite many events having been canceled due to Coronavirus, the Pesticide Action Week is back once again celebrating its fifteenth year online. The upcoming ten days from March 20 to 30 are dedicated to raising awareness around chemical pesticides and the dangers of their use both for human health and the environment.
For over 20 years, the French organization “Generations Futures” has been working on the issue of chemical pesticides and the harm they cause. Every year, at the beginning of spring, it calls farmers, organizations and institutional actors together, grouping of over 50 international partners, including Slow Food.
There have been several petitions supporting bees launched in the past; however, the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” differs from the others.
The European Citizens’ Initiative is the only direct democracy tool designed for Europeans to influence the EU decision-making process. Although it has its flaws, it is the sole and the most effective way to make the European Commission and the Parliament listen and consider improving the existing laws and regulations.
As the European Commission is expected to launch the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy this March, Slow Food Europe urges the Commission to take the necessary measures to drastically reduce the use of pesticides and industrial farming to ensure the protection of pollinators. In its recent feedback on the new strategy, Slow Food Europe also draws attention to agricultural land, which should become “part of the solution to address the biodiversity crisis” and demands that the EU provides support to farmers to transition toward agroecology.
As the decline of bees and pollinators has been a growing concern around the planet, Slow Food has joined a Europe-wide campaign aiming to ban pesticides, transform agriculture, save bees and conserve nature. Over the last weekend, Slow Food along with partner organizations presented the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” by collecting signatures at the “Wir Haben Es Satt! (We are fed up!) demonstration in Berlin.
With the new European Commission promising to implement a European Green Deal, the expectations are high for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to truly address the needs of the environment. The Green Deal should include biodiversity protection strategy and the reduction of the use of pesticides – vital steps to stop the decline of pollinators. On September 21, the second day of the Cheese Festival in Bra, speakers from the European Commission and several European non-governmental organizations discussed how the CAP reform fits into the narrative around the protection of the environment, biodiversity, and sustainable food systems.
Ahead of the meeting of the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), Slow Food Europe urges its members to support the implementation of toxicity assessment standards and to take responsibility to effectively protect bees from harmful pesticides. Member States in the PAFF Committee have been procrastinating on a formal EU-wide adoption of bee safety standards, developed in the so-called Bee Guidance Document several years ago. On July 16-17, they are expected to vote on the implementation of the document which would help to halt the usage of bee-killing pesticides.