Highlights from the 2013 Pollinator Summit

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Bee pollinating a pink flower

On Tuesday (March 5), I was with several members of the Bayer Bee Health team in Arlington, VA, for the 2013 Pollinator Summit hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).  The public meeting was convened to advance understanding of and efforts to protect honey bees from potential risks, particularly those associated with seed treatments used during corn planting.  Bayer had the opportunity to be on the ground floor to plan this meeting and had a significant role in the program.

Clive Halder, Director of Federal Regulatory Affairs, moderated the first session of the summit, which was focused on dust mitigation during corn planting, and Bill Hairston, Director of Product Development, Seed Growth, presented research plans regarding Bayer’s new lubricant system, which is designed to reduce potential dust abrasion.  Initial work on the talc replacement product has shown dust reductions of up to 90 percent and plans are to expand testing to 200,000 acres of corn in the United States and Canada in 2013.

Other sessions focused on seed treatment applications, including the preparation and value of seed treatments, and best management practices, including stewardship, education and outreach efforts. Participants in the summit, which was open to the public and broadcast online, included representatives from the crop protection industry, equipment manufacturers, researchers, growers, beekeepers, and government regulators.  All sessions allowed for questions from the audience, including those participating via webinar.

The Pollinator Summit provided an opportunity to demonstrate the very real progress that has been made to identify and mitigate potential pesticide exposures to honey bees.  Furthermore, the summit showed that collaboration among industry, academia and government is essential in providing solutions to farmers and beekeepers in support of bee health and sustainable agriculture.

With the European Union’s Member States’ vote expected this week, the timing could not have been better for us.  There will be continued pressure on both the EPA and PMRA to change their policies and sessions like this are another example of their ongoing commitment to the topic of bee health.

- Robyn Kneen, Bayer CropScience North America Bee Health Project Manager

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