In response to the world’s declining bee population, Emory has implemented a new pollinator protection program in the hopes of making Emory a safer space for bees and other pollinators, according to Emory Office of Sustainability Initiatives’ (OSI) Program Coordinator Emily Cumbie-Drake.
The pollinator protection program pledges to eliminate neonicotinoid, a popular insecticide, from campus grounds, purchase plants for campus landscaping that have not been pretreated with neonicotinoids as much as possible and specify in contracts with vendors and campus construction not to use neonicotinoid insecticides or plants pretreated with said chemicals.
The program will also ensure that substitutes for neonicotinoid pesticides are safe for pollinators and plant pollinator-friendly habitats on campus, along with campus outreach and education on this issue.
The health and productivity of pollinators such as bees are currently at great risk as their populations are dwindling worldwide, according to Cumbie-Drake.
Cumbie-Drake wrote in an email to the Wheel that two-thirds of the food crops that humans eat every day require bees and other pollinators to survive. In simple terms, if bees disappear, so does a lot of the food we eat each day.
Discussions about this program began in April 2014, when the OSI was contacted by the Turner Foundation about a report released by the Pesticide Research Institute, Emory’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Friends of the Earth (FOE U.S.), a network of grassroots environmental organizations. The report exposed many nursery plants sold as “bee-friendly” as actually pretreated with neonicotinoid pesticides, according to Cumbie-Drake.
Following the reports, OSI has partnered with the Turner Clinic, FOE, Campus Services and Procurement to develop and plan for the implementation of this pledge, she added.
“Emory is taking an important step to protect pollinators in our community, while also encouraging other campuses, contractors and landscaping nurseries across the country to take similar steps to protect these essential species,” Cumbie-Drake said, adding that any student interested in the program should feel free to contact her.
College senior Sara Staville, who will be in charge of the sustainable bee booth at Emory’s annual Sustainable Food Fair in October, said she believes it is really important that Emory is tackling a global issue on its own campus and has recognized an issue that has become a concern only in the last two years.
She added: “I am glad that Emory is sustaining their own ecosystem with their educational gardens and is taking a lead in maintaining sustainable agriculture.”.
â€”By Naomi Maisel