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France Halts Sale of Fipronil To Protect Bees
(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2004)
As of yesterday, France's Agriculture Minister Herve Garmard has suspended the sale of pesticide products containing the active ingredient fipronil due to its high toxicity to bees, according to the Associated Press (AP). Garmard stated at a press conference that the use of the six fipronil-containing products could be used through the spring until existing stocks are depleted.

Bee populations are essential to farm productivity since they are a key component in natural crop pollination. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that at least one-third of agricultural crops depend on bees and other animals for pollination. According to Ohio State University, over 75 commonly used pesticides in the U.S. are highly or moderately toxic to bees.

In December 2002, a U.S. study, "Crop pollination from native bees at risk from agricultural intensification," found a drop in native bee populations corresponding with areas of high intensity agriculture. Dr. Claire Kremen, the lead researcher of the report, believes that the native bees suffer as a result of habitat loss and pesticide poisoning.

In June 2001, Beyond Pesticides Daily News reported that environmental biologist Peter Kevan, a professor from the University of Guelph in Canada, discovered that, due in part to pesticide use, there is a growing global scarcity of bees and insects, the pollinators required to produce the world's food supply. According to Dr. Kevan, the world's pollinator shortage is the result of a series of complicated factors that go beyond a simple lack of bees, but that is where the problem starts. "The changes in agricultural styles, chemicals and pesticides have taken a tremendous toll," explains Dr. Kevan. "And even if the pollinators survive, there are fewer and fewer places for them to live. Most of their natural places - holes, logs - have been cleaned up. Their natural habitat was gone a long time ago."

Not only is fipronil toxic to bees, there are also adverse health effects to humans. The U.S. EPA lists fipronil as a possible human carcinogen. For more information on fipronil, see Beyond Pesticides ChemWatch fact sheet.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Mr. Michael Leavitt, EPA Administrator, by email, phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470 to urge EPA to also prohibit the agricultural use of fipronil due to its high toxicity to bees.