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California Charged with 'Rubber-Stamping' Pesticides Linked to Bee Deaths

Attorney: “Unless halted, the use of these pesticides threatens not only the very survival of our pollinators, but the fate of whole ecosystems."

The class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids have been linked repeatedly with bee decline. (Photo: dni777/ cc/ Flickr)

Environmental groups on Tuesday called out the state of California for illegally pushing new agricultural uses for certain pesticides despite mounting evidence that they are devastating honeybee populations.

A suit (pdf) filed by Earthjustice charges that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is "rubber-stamping" the approval of new pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids or neonics, "without first complying with laws enacted to ensure that they are safe."

“DPR has been saying for five years that neonicotinoid pesticides may be killing California’s honey bees, and yet the agency allows more and more of these pesticides to be used each year,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney at Earthjustice. In 2009, DPR began a scientific review of neonics in response to overwhelming evidence that linked the pesticides to bee decline.

The legal challenge, which was filed in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda, demands that the court review DPR's June 13 decision to expand the use of two powerful neonics, known as Venom Insecticide and Dinotefuran 20SG, despite the office's still-pending review of their impact to pollinators.


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“Unless halted, the use of these pesticides threatens not only the very survival of our pollinators, but the fate of whole ecosystems," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive Director of Center for Food Safety, which along with Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network prompted the suit.

"Scientists have consistently documented widespread environmental contamination from neonicotinoids as they build up in our soil and waterways, especially in California," Kimbrell continued. "The DPR has a responsibility to step in and say no.”

In August, California lawmakers are expected to take up legislation that demands DPR complete their long-pending evaluation of neonics by July 1, 2015 and issue a final determination by January 2016.

“It’s past time for DPR to fix its broken evaluation system and protect our bees and our agricultural economy," Loarie added.


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