The Solution Report

Ecological farming methods can ensure food production
and avoid the negative impacts on bees

Executive Summary

The drastic decline of wild and managed bee populations recorded in recent years in
Europe and North America is alarming given our reliance on these insect pollinators for
biodiversity and global food security. Managed honey bees have sharply declined, for
instance, by 25% in Europe between 1985 and 2005. This decline of bees has led to the
concept of a global “pollination crisis” – a situation where pollination services by bees are
limited and this, in turn, may cause the yield and quality of crops to deteriorate.

The introduction to this report highlights the importance of bees for global food security, and is followed by a chapter describing the factors causing bee declines. The next chapter looks at how farming methods and agricultural landscapes impact on bees.
Recommendations, based on scientific studies to protect and restore bee populations in Europe, are made. The final chapter provides a review of scientific literature on ecological pest control. This can provide a means to eliminate the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in industrial farming. Research, considered together with existing ecological farming practices, confirms that we don’t need pesticides to deal with the pests that live
on the crops we want to produce.

Scientific research shows that a diversity of wild bee species is paramount for ensuring sustainable crop production. Thus, we cannot rely solely on one species – managed honey bees – for pollination. A diversity of wild bee species is also essential to ensure food is delivered to our tables every day. Recent scientific studis have shown that chemicalintensive industrial agriculture is implicated in the decline of bees and the pollination services they provide to our crops and wild flowers. Ever increasing applications of fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides and their synergistic negative impacts on bee health (Johnston et al. 2014, Tirado et al. 2013) and loss of natural and semi-natural habitat on field, farm and landscape levels are major drivers of bee declines. Further, the modern industrial farming model also causes problems of growing resistance of pests and weeds, decreased soil fertility and water retention, contamination of ground waters, high energy input and CO2 emissions, as well as reduced resilience and increased vulnerability to climate change. In addition, under this paradigm farmers become increasingly dependent upon seeds and chemical products from multinational companies. These are just some examples of the negative impacts resulting from current chemical-intensive industrial agriculture practices.

As an alternative, a model based on modern ecological farming methods could ensure food production and avoid the negative impacts outlined above. Scientific studies discussed in this report show that the implementation of ecological farming is feasible and in fact the only solution to the ever-increasing problems associated with chemicalintensive industrial agriculture. Ecological farming, which includes some organic agricultural methods, promotes biodiversity on farmland and supports the restoration of semi-natural habitat on farms as ecological compensation areas for bees and other wildlife. Ecological farming does not rely on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides and, thereby, safeguards bees from toxic effects of these agrochemicals.

«Plan Bee»

Plan Bee – Living without pesticides: Moving towards ecological farming

Greenpeace International (2014), Michelle Allsopp, Reyes Tirado, Paul Johnston, David Santillo and Patricia Lemmens; Produced by Steve Erwood

«A Toxic Eden»

A Toxic Eden – An analysis of bee-harming pesticides in ornamental plants sold in Europe

Greenpeace International (2014), Wolfgang Reuter

«The Bees' Burden»

The bees' burden: An analysis of pesticide residues in comb pollen (beebread) and trapped pollen from honey bees (Apis mellifera) in 12 European countries

Greenpeace Research Laboratories, Technical Report (03/2014), Paul Johnston, Christiane Huxdorff, Gergely Simon and David Santillo; Edited and produced by Steve Erwood

«Bees in Decline»

Bees in decline: A review of factors that put pollinators and agriculture in Europe at risk

Greenpeace Research Laboratories, Technical Report (Review 01/2013), Reyes Tirado, Gergely Simon and Paul Johnston

«Corporate Science Fiction»

Corporate science fiction: A critical assessment of a Bayer and Syngenta funded HFFA report on neonicotinoid pesticides

Greenpeace e.V. (2013), Lars Neumeister

«Dripping Poison»

Dripping Poison - An analysis of neonicotinoid insecticides in the guttation fluid of growing maize plants

Greenpeace International (2013), Gergely Simon, Christiane Huxdorff, David Santillo & Paul Johnston; Produced by Steve Erwood

Press Releases

Save the Bees – problems, solutions, demands

The next time you see a bee buzzing around, remember…

…that a third of our food crops are pollinated by bees and other insects. Up to 90% of all wild plants exist thanks to bees and other pollinating insects. The economic value of pollination services globally provided by bees amount to some €265bn.

Bee-decline is a global problem.

In recent winters, in Europe alone, bee losses up to 53% became a reality. This dramatic decline in bee populations is the result of multiple factors such as diseases and parasites, climate change and wider industrial agricultural practices. Monocultures and the extensive use of deadly pesticides are of special concern. Some pesticides are real bee-killers.

We need the bees. Save them. Save the agriculture. Now.

Greenpeace urges decision makers across Europe to: Ban the use of bee-harming pesticides. Start with the seven deadliest bee-killers: Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin, Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, BASF’s fipronil, as well as clorpyriphos, cypermethrin and deltamethrin. Promote ecological farming.