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Erin Jensen

EPA Assessment Finds Common Pesticide Harms Bees

Friends of the Earth calls for agency to suspend bee-toxic pesticides

WASHINGTON - Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the pesticide imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide used widely on 140 crops, which has been implicated as a key contributor to bee declines. The risk assessment, conducted with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, indicates that imidacloprid poses risks to honey bees.

This is the first of four preliminary pollinator risk assessments of neonicotinoid insecticides, including clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran, to be released by the EPA in December 2016. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected the EPA’s approval of the neonicotinoid insecticide sufloxaflor. The court concluded that the EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honeybee colonies and ruled that sulfoxaflor may not be used in the U.S.

Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:

Friends of the Earth is pleased that the EPA’s assessment reinforces the strong body of independent science demonstrating that neonicotinoids are a leading driver of bee declines. It is imperative that the EPA stop delaying action and immediately suspend imidacloprid and other bee-toxic pesticides.

This assessment also demonstrates that the EPA’s initial flawed risk assessment 20 years ago based on company data was insufficient. However, the EPA’s piecemeal approach continues to ignore the risks posed by neonicotinoids to native bees, synergistic and cumulative impacts of exposures to multiple neonicotinoids and other pesticides and fungicides, the impacts of seed coatings, and sublethal and chronic effects that also contribute to bee declines.

With beekeepers facing continued unsustainable losses, and harm to essential native pollinators mounting, the EPA needs to stop dragging its feet and take decisive action to suspend these bee-toxic pesticides.

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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