(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2017) Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of neonicotinoid pesticides – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid, and the agency’s failure to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the pesticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges the failure of the federal government to evaluate the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) on threatened and endangered species, like the rusty patched bumble bee, the black-capped vireo, and the San Bruno elfin butterfly. The suit cites widespread presence of neonics in the environment which presents serious risks to wildlife across large portions of the country. It contends that they pose significant adverse consequences to threatened and endangered species. According to the lawsuit, because of toxicity and pervasive environmental contamination, NRDC is now challenging EPA’s registrations of pesticide products containing one of three main neonic active ingredients—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—and seeks vacatur of those registrations until EPA complies with the law.
“The EPA ignored endangered bees, butterflies, and birds when it approved the widespread use of neonics,” said Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney in NRDC’s Land & Wildlife program. “Massive pollinator die-offs across the country show that these pesticides cause serious harm to wildlife.”
NRDC identified 26 species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that are at risk from neonic pesticides. They include the federally endangered rusty patched bumblebee, Karner blue butterfly, Hines’ emerald dragonfly, black-capped vireo, and pallid sturgeon, as well as the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp.
This lawsuit follows a decision earlier this year by a federal judge in California who ruled that EPA violated the ESA when it issued 59 neonicotinoid insecticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for pesticide products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam. That lawsuit, first filed in 2013, focused on the EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from pesticides and challenged EPA’s oversight of the neonic pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are highly toxic to bees and a growing body of scientific literature has linked them to pollinator decline in general. Neonicotinoids are associated with decreased foraging and navigational ability, as well as increased vulnerability to pathogens and parasites as a result of suppressed bee immune systems. In addition to toxicity to bees, neonicotinoids have been shown to also adversely affect birds, aquatic organisms, and contaminate soil and waterways, and overall biodiversity. An overwhelming number of studies have shown that neonicotinoids can impact a wide-rage of non-target species. This summer, the results of a two-year long study conducted at 33 sites in multiple European countries to assess the effects of neonics confirms that these pesticides have a deleterious effect on bee survival.
EPA’s own assessment also finds that neonics like imidacloprid pose risks to aquatic organisms, and has concentrations in U.S. waters that threaten sensitive species. Other preliminary pollinator assessment conducted by the agency for the other neonics- clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, finds that they present “no significant risks” to honey bees, despite finding multiple instances where bees are at risk of toxic exposure, and overwhelming independent data to the contrary.
In light of the shortcomings of federal action in the U.S. to protect these beneficial organisms, it is left up to us to act. You can pledge to stop using neonicotinoids and other toxic pesticides. Sign the pollinator protection pledge today. Beyond Pesticides also advocates the adoption of organic land management practices and policies by local communities that eliminate the use of toxic pesticides in our environment. For more information on what you can do to protect pollinators in your backyard, see Beyond Pesticides BEE Protective campaign page.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.
Source: NRDC Blog