“The annual loss of honey bees from pesticides in their environment would fill Kenan Stadium seven feet deep with dead bee carcasses,” Woodard said.
The effects of neonics are rather severe. It is a new insecticide that affects the central nervous system of insects which paralyzes them and kills them. Taylor Griffin, the general manager of a local restaurant, Living Kitchen, was worried about the unfettered use of pollinator killers.
“Since Living Kitchen is a plant-based operation, without bees, our restaurant will be 100 percent obsolete,” Griffin said. “Eat local, be conscious of what’s in your food, and strive to keep the hive alive.”
Although bad pesticide choice isn’t the only factor stunting pollinator species, it is a major culprit. But hope isn’t lost, as awareness continues to build. Woodard highlighted two steps in the solution to the bee problem.
“First we must work to eliminate pesticides from pollinator’s habitats. Secondly, we can create more habitats for pollinators to forage,” he said.
NCPIRG’s campus coordinator Victoria Quiett describes UNC’s role as a catalyst in a chain reaction. By meeting specific criteria and helping UNC becoming a bee-safe institution, she hopes to influence bigger agricultural areas. She calls this plan the ‘radiation effect.’
Edible Campus UNC also had a similar educational purpose.
“We want to influence their decisions so that they know what type of food they are buying and what type of practices they are supporting,” said Laura Mindlin, the program’s coordinator.
The decline of pollinators, which leads to less food production, has bigger implications too.
“If 70 percent of our food goes away, where is that going to hit first? That hits food deserts first, that hits low-income households, and all of a sudden this issue of processed foods is exacerbated,” Quiett said.
Senator Woodard, who introduced a pollinator protection act, said progress is being made. He said they are gaining support from retailers from companies such as The Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart, agreeing to lower their sale of neonics down to zero percent.
“Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we think about the bounty of the earth. But unless we act now to begin to protect our pollinators, that bounty will decrease,” Woodard said. “In the years to come, we will have much less to be thankful for.”