UCSB students are packing their bags to join their families and load up their plates with Thanksgiving favorites, making stops on their way home to get hot chocolate or coffee for the long trip home. But the steady decline of bee colonies puts these foods and drinks in jeopardy.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to acknowledge how much we rely on pollinator bees. Thirty to 40 percent of all bee colonies are lost every season, beekeepers report. This is a scary trend because bees pollinate one in three of all the foods we eat. Thursday’s feast exemplifies our reliance on bees, as they pollinate the ingredients of many classic Thanksgiving dishes: Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, and more! If we continue to lose bees, not only will our food favorites diminish during holidays but at every meal.
We need to work to protect bee colonies in order to reduce a future of an insecure food supply, not to mention the cost of a healthy diet. We need to save our food supply.
One of the reasons bees are dying is the use of harmful pesticides called neonicotinoids. These types of chemicals are known neurotoxins, causing bees to become disoriented and unable to return to their hives. Studies shows that neonics are more than 5,000 times deadlier to pollinators than DDT, a pesticide we banned over 40 years ago. It is time for neonicotinoids to be banned in our state. CALPIRG students at UCSB are working to ban the poison in the City of Santa Barbara.
We know that a ban will not solve the issue of bee colonies disappearing. Multiple factors contribute to colony collapse disorder, including global warming, mishandling bee hives, and diseases. However, we believe that banning neonicotinoids in the city is a critical step in tackling this issue. We should not allow pesticide companies to get away with destroying our food supply and killing bee species for the sake of profit. Over the past few years, the number of neonicotinoids used has grown significantly, and we need to stop its use immediately.
On Tuesday, CALPIRG at UCSB held an event to inform students about this epidemic, collecting more than 100 petitions from students. We aim to ban neonicotinoids in Santa Barbara by the end of this school year by lobbying local elected officials with student petitions.
When sitting down to your Thanksgiving meal, remember to be thankful to the bees. It is important to remember where your food comes from and the gravity of protecting our food supply. If the bee die-off continues, food prices will rise, and some foods will disappear altogether.
Emma Whitson is a junior at UC Santa Barbara and the Save the Bees Campaign Coordinator for CALPIRG.