Slow Food works to raise public awareness about the dramatic decline in the populations of bees and other insects around the world, and calls for an end to the use of harmful pesticides and the destruction of biodiversity that is associated with insect declines. Slow Food has long promoted clean agriculture systems that protect landscapes and biodiversity rather than damaging the environment – in short, agriculture that works for bees.
Slow Food supports a variety of campaigns – many focused on EU policy – to stop the decline of bees. For example, in 2013 Slow Food participated in a campaign to urge European institutions to end the use of harmful pesticides, and continues to call for the Bee Guidance Document, drawn up by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2013, to be fully adopted at the EU level. This document includes a proposal for more adequate precautionary protocols for the assessment and authorization of new chemicals. Due to the stubborn opposition of particular Member States, the interests of the agriculture industry, and the strong lobbying power of the agrochemical sector, these protocols still have yet to be implemented in all European countries. EFSA has fully applied the new rules for just three neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam), which were banned in the EU in 2018.
Slow Food therefore calls for these guidelines to be adopted across the EU as soon as possible. Slow Food is also part of a coalition of civil society organizations that asks for greater transparency in the risk assessment process from those companies and organizations that truly have the power to save bees. The fear is that, without precise rules, the use of many pesticides lethal to bees will continue and new substances will be put on the market, rendering the rightly celebrated EU bans on neonicotinoids meaningless.
In order to guarantee the safety of bees, the European Union must ban all pesticides, not just the three mentioned above. In 2020, Slow Food joined the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) “Save Bees and Farmers!” to halt pesticide use, positively change how agriculture is practiced, and safeguard bees and nature. The initiative seeks to collect 1 million signatures by September 2020, thus obligating the European Parliament and Commission to legislate on the issue, taking into consideration the principles expressed in the various requests. Ninety organizations in 17 EU Member States have joined the initiative.
Slow Bees is an informal network of beekeepers and enthusiasts who work to defend pollinators. It involves beekeepers from Slow Food communities around the world as well as Presidium producers and activists committed to protecting and raising awareness about pollinators.
The members of Slow Bees meet every 2 years during the international event Terra Madre and regularly organize joint actions, and the network’s activities are addressed to members of all age groups – for example, children make “seed bombs” to throw in urban gardens, and members of Slow Food communities introduce each other to the pollinators in their respective territories, organize tastings of bee products, give lessons on how to create “bug hotels,” and cultivate melliferous plants.
To join the Slow Bees network or to find out whether there is a food community near you, write to [email protected]