All Buzz and No Sting: Why the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021 Will Not Pass and Alternatives to a Complete Neonicotinoid Ban
The fate of honey bees is currently at risk of pesticide annihilation. Humans have kept bees for millennia, however, only recently have honey bees come under attack. The Egyptians were the first civilization to practice beekeeping over 4,000 years ago. Honey bees were a sacred, cultural pillar to the Egyptians. Today, the honey bee is much less revered. Humans have transitioned from worshipping the hive to poisoning it.
Modern honey bees are in a chemical war with pesticides. Specifically, neonicotinoids—a type of pesticide—present an urgent threat to the survival of honey bees. The Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021 (Pollinators Act) is a bill that attempts to protect honey bees from lethal neonicotinoids. On its face, the bill lays out some great ways to protect honey bees. Namely, it calls for a complete ban on neonicotinoids. From an environmental perspective, this is great news for honey bees. However, from a political perspective, this bill will realistically never pass as written because the pesticide industry has made it very difficult to regulate neonicotinoids. Proof lies in the fact that the Pollinators Act has been introduced six times since 2013 and failed to pass every time.
This note lays out multiple ways Congress should regulate neonicotinoids to protect honey bees. To increase its chances of passing, the Pollinators Act should employ practical, alternative solutions to reduce the use and availability of neonicotinoids, rather than a complete ban. For example, the bill should: (1) prohibit cosmetic uses of neonicotinoids; (2) prohibit backyard gardeners from using neonicotinoids; (3) prohibit the use of neonicotinoids on crops before and during the bloom stage; and (4) expand warning language on pollinator labels. In the race to protect honey bees, small steps are better than no steps at all.
Part I discusses how humans rely on pollinators, what neonicotinoids are, how they affect honey bees, and what the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021 is. Part I addresses the huge influence the pesticide industry has on United States regulations. Part II establishes why the Pollinators Act likely will not pass, and suggests alternatives to a complete ban on neonicotinoids that the Act should include. Part III concludes by asserting that the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021 is more of a call to action than a bill that law makers will take seriously.
 Bees in Crisis, Pesticide Action Network, https://www.panna.org/food-farming-derailed/bees-crisis (last visited Apr. 04, 2022).
 Gene Kritsky, The Tears of Re: Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt 3 (2015).
 Id. at 3.
 Id. at 2–3 (describing how the sun god Re was an important deity and his gift to the Egyptians was honey bees).
 Protecting Bees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Your Garden, Xerces Soc’y https://wellesleyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6743/Neonicotinoid-in-Your-Garden#:~:text=Neonicotinoids%20are%20systemic%20chemicals.,tissues%2C%20including%20pollen%20and%20nectar.&text=This%20means%20that%20bees%20can,doses%20of%20neonicotinoids%20in%20gardens (last visited Apr. 04, 2022).
 Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021, H.R. 4079, 117th Cong. (2021).
 Lee Fang, The Playbook for Poisoning the Earth, The Intercept (Jan. 18, 2020) https://theintercept.com/2020/01/18/bees-insecticides-pesticides-neonicotinoids-bayer-monsanto-syngenta/.
 Emily Knobbe, Saving America’s Pollinators Act: A Legacy of Progressive Pollinator Protection, Ctr. For Food Safety (June 23, 2021), https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/blog/6395/saving-americas-pollinators-act-a-legacy-of-progressive-pollinator-protection; Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013, H.R. 2692, 113th Cong. (2013); Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015, H.R. 1284, 114th Cong. (2015); Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2017, H.R. 3040, 115th Cong. (2017); Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2018, H.R. 5015, 115th Cong. (2018); Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2019, H.R. 1337, 116th Cong. (2019); H.R. 4079 (2021).