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US Beekeepers File Suit Against Trump EPA Charging 'Illegal' Approval of Insecticide Linked to Mass Die-Off

"Honeybees and other pollinators are dying in droves because of insecticides like sulfoxaflor, yet the Trump administration removes restriction just to please the chemical industry."

"It is inappropriate for EPA to solely rely on industry studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back into our farm fields," said Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, a party to the suit. "Die-offs of tens of thousands of bee colonies continue to occur and sulfoxaflor plays a huge role in this problem. EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation’s food system." (Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

"It is inappropriate for EPA to solely rely on industry studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back into our farm fields," said Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, a party to the suit. "Die-offs of tens of thousands of bee colonies continue to occur and sulfoxaflor plays a huge role in this problem. EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation’s food system." (Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A group of beekeepers joined forces on Friday against Trump's EPA by filing a lawsuit over the agency's move to put a powerful insecticide—one that scientists warn is part of the massive pollinator die-off across the U.S.—back on the market.

The lawsuit (pdf) charges that the EPA's approval of sulfoxaflor—touted by its manufacturer, agro-chemical giant Corteva, as a "next generation neonicotinoid"—was illegally rendered as it put industry interests ahead of the health of pollinators and ignored the available science.

"EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation's food system."

"Honeybees and other pollinators are dying in droves because of insecticides like sulfoxaflor, yet the Trump administration removes restriction just to please the chemical industry," said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice, the legal aid group representing the beekeepers. "This is illegal and an affront to our food system, economy, and environment." 

According to a statement by Earthjustice:

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EPA first approved sulfoxaflor in 2013, but thanks to a lawsuit brought by Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Beekeeper Federation, and Earthjustice, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. The Court ruled EPA failed to obtain reliable studies regarding the impact of sulfoxaflor on honeybee colonies.

In 2016, EPA re-approved sulfoxaflor subject to significant restrictions to reduce the risk to honeybees and other pollinators.  On July 12, 2019, without any public notice, the Trump administration removed these restrictions on sulfoxaflor and approved a host of new uses for the bee-killing insecticide.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include beekeeper Jeff Anderson, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, and the American Beekeeper Federation.

"It is inappropriate for EPA to solely rely on industry studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back into our farm fields," said Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council. "Die-offs of tens of thousands of bee colonies continue to occur and sulfoxaflor plays a huge role in this problem. EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation's food system."

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