World Bee Day to see Slow Food inaugurate an action to save bees

17May 2019
The Guardian
World Bee Day to see Slow Food inaugurate an action to save bees

SLOW Food will on World Bee Day (May 20) launch an international “Slow Bees” action, the aim being to rise in defence of pollinators and provide greater resonance, outreach and visibility to the threats bees and other pollinators, plants and biodiversity face today.

Roundabout 75 per cent of global food crops rely on animal pollination. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), today’s species are facing extinction rates 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal owing to human impacts.

Aspiring to respond to the devastating statistics, Slow Food activists will spend World Bee Day planting organic flowering shrubs or trees to support clean pollinator forage.

The worldwide mobilisation to act will be launched online, using hashtags #onetreeforahive #plantoneforpollinators #slowtreesforbees.

“We are a diverse group of people who believe that talking about the world of bees and pollinators is the key to observing, learning, measuring and protecting biodiversity, while inviting traditional, ancient and indigenous knowledge of sustainable agriculture practice to the fore,” say beekeepers Jennifer Holmes from Florida, Terry Oxford from California (US) and Guido Cortese from Italy, who coordinate the Slow Food activities for the World Bees Day.

“We know that you cannot have healthy pollinators if you do not have ample organic flowers for the entire growing season. That is why we call people to act,” they add – in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Symbolically, on May 20 representatives of EU Member States will gather to discuss the implementation of toxicity assessment standards, known as the Bee Guidance Document, developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2013.

However, EFSA only fully applied the new rules in the assessment of three neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam), which were banned in the EU only as recently as last year.

Until today, EU national governments have failed to endorse the use of the 2013 Bee Guidance Document in all other pesticide decisions. Recently, the EU Ombudsman has recognised that the process of the Bee Guidance Document adoption “constitutes maladministration” as the Commission has refused to grant public access to the positions of Members States.

Slow Food is advocating the full implementation of the Bee Guidance Document and is part of a joint coalition of civil society organisations asking decision-makers to save the bees and for greater transparency in the risk assessment process.

On May 9, the most recent joint action took place in several European cities: beekeepers and environmental groups handed in a petition signed by over 230,000 Europeans to their national agriculture ministers in seven European capitals asking to improve the way the EU tests all new pesticides.

Slow Food’s local group of beekeepers and activists addressed these concerns to the Agriculture ministry in Rome and, ahead of the meeting in Brussels, asked the Italian government to effectively protect bees from harmful pesticides.

Slow Food is concerned that, in the absence of strict safety rules, many bee-killing pesticides will continue to be used, and more will come to the market, rendering the much-celebrated ban of three neonicotinoid pesticides in Europe last year redundant.

The agency is certain that, to save the bees, governments need to outlaw all bee-killing pesticides, not just three of them.

Slow Food is a global grassroots organisation that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.

Founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 but having since spread worldwide, it promotes local food and traditional cooking.

Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

It was the first established part of the broader slow movement, its sights being on sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses directed against globalisation of agricultural products.

The organisation involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries.