Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A bee collects nectar off an almond tree near Visalia, California.

A bee collects nectar off an almond tree near Visalia, California. Honeybees pollinate many crops, including almond trees in February, and are essential to the food chain. (Photo by Ann Johansson/Corbis via Getty Images):

'Incredibly Important' Victory for Nation's Honey Bees by California High Court

"With this ruling, the bees in California are getting much-needed relief just as we're seeing some of the worst signs of colony collapse."

Andrea Germanos

The bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor is no longer approved for use in California after a ruling by a state superior court that environmental advocates say represents a win for pollinators and the nation's food system.

In a statement Monday noting that "just about every commercial honey bee colony in this country spends at least part of the year in California," Steve Ellis, president of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, called the ruling "incredibly important for pollinators" because "removing systemic insecticides such as sulfoxaflor will help ensure honey bees have a healthy future." That's especially crucial, he said, in light of recent "astounding losses" to honey bee colonies.

"Removing systemic insecticides such as sulfoxaflor will help ensure honey bees have a healthy future."

Represented in court by environmental law firm Earthjustice, Ellis' group joined the American Beekeeping Federation in challenging the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's (DPR) approval of sulfoxaflor, a chemical produced by Corteva, a spinoff company of the 2017 Dow-DuPont merger.

The bee advocates note that sulfoxaflor is similar to the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, neonics, as they both "systemic" pesticides—making their way from root to plant tissue—and lethal to bees.

In the ruling, handed down Friday by the Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Frank Roesch agreed with the petitioners in finding that that regulators failed to provide an "adequate description of the environmental setting into which the new sulfoxaflor pesticides will be introduced" and that the "public reports do not satisfy the requirement of a meaningful consideration of alternatives."

There was also no disclosure to the public of "why the agency approved the project after consideration of the potential environmental impacts of the approval of sulfoxaflor," the ruling said.

Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie welcomed the decision but said that the state had more work to do to protect bees and other pollinators.

“Honeybees and other pollinators are incredibly important in our food systems and our wider ecosystem, but they're dying in droves because of pesticides like sulfoxaflor," he said in a statement. "With this ruling, the bees in California are getting much-needed relief just as we're seeing some of the worst signs of colony collapse."

"Now," he added, "California needs to turn its attention to protecting pollinators from the entire class of neonicotinoid pesticides that threaten our future.

The plaintiffs' victory came as they fight the Environmental Protection Agency's 2019 federal approval of sulfoxaflor, and as scientists continue to sound alarm about the global loss of insects—a trend linked to pesticide-dependent industrial agriculture and described as an "unnoticed apocalypse."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Leaked Report Suggests Impunity for IDF Troops in Deadly Stop of Palestinian-American Elder

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," said the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Exactly Right': Progressives Back Arizona Dems Censure of Sinema

"If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens... then there's a problem," said Rep. Ro Khanna.

Brett Wilkins ·


Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo