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Daily News Blog

03
Jun

Public Comment Needed on EPA’s Plans To Allow Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor despite Elevated Bee Losses

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2016) Despite recent reports of continuing bee losses across the U.S., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to reevaluate the use of the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor, and is proposing an amended registration. Sulfoxaflor’s initial 2013 registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and EPA’s inadequate review of the data.

Susan Jergans Elkhorn WI These were taken from our garden3Last September, the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally rejected  EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor. The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide may  have on honey bee colonies. The Court vacated EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, meaning that sulfoxaflor could no longer be used in the U.S. This decision was in response to a suit filed by beekeepers challenging EPA’s initial registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited the insecticide’s threat to bees and beekeeping. The case:  Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, Thomas Smith, Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson v. U.S. EPA  (9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,”¯No. 13-7234)

According to the court decision, EPA skirted its own regulations when it ignored risk concerns, even with reduced maximum application rates, which EPA has done before, despite prior reprimands from the Court. The judge ruled  that additional higher Tier (Tier II) bee data was needed to fully assess risks, which EPA did not have. Thus, the court vacated sulfoxaflor’s registration. However, EPA’s new amended registration is for fewer uses and according to EPA, the proposed restrictions reduce the risk to bees below EPA’s level of concern such that no additional data requirements are triggered.

Now, EPA is proposing an amended registration, which the agency claims will be “very protective of pollinators,” to allow the chemical’s use on fewer crops than were allowed under sulfoxaflor’s initial registration. For crops that are attractive to bees, the agency will prohibit sulfoxaflor’s use before and during bloom, when EPA expects that bees will  not be present. Additional measures are being proposed to reduce spray drift. EPA is also specifically requesting public input on other proposals: a buffer zone requirement for when there is blooming vegetation bordering the treated field; and the prohibition of  tank mixing sulfoxaflor with other pesticides. EPA has stated that  these  restrictions will “practically eliminate exposure to bees on the field, which reduces the risk to bees below EPA’s level of concern such that no additional data requirements are triggered.”

Despite these new proposed restrictions, sulfoxaflor will still be a danger to bees due to its systemic nature  —an issue EPA continually ignores or underestimates, according to beekeepers and environmental advocates. Sulfoxaflor is similar to that of neonicotinoid pesticides —it acts on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in insects, and like neonicotinoids, it is a “systemic” insecticide, which means that when applied to plants, it is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen, and nectar.  Residues will remain in pollen and nectar, and even contaminated soil and water long after initial application, sometimes for months and years. Bees and other pollinators will continually be exposed, exacerbating the problems faced by an already tenuous honey bee industry and further decimate bee populations.

Tell EPA not to register another bee-toxic chemical. Comments are being accepted until June 17, 2016.

Honey bees and wild bees have been suffering elevated population declines over the last few years. A recent government-sponsored survey reports that U.S. beekeepers lost  44 percent of their honey bee colonies between April 2015 and April 2016, one of the highest recorded losses. There is a  growing scientific consensus   that systemic, persistent insecticides like neonicotinoids are a major contributing factor to declines in wild pollinators and honey bee colonies.  A recently published study by researchers at Purdue University  finds that honey bees collect most of their pollen from non-crop plants that are frequently contaminated with a wide range of pesticides. Numerous pesticides, including sulfoxaflor, neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, and fungicides are highly toxic to honey bees and have a range of effects including impacts on learning behavior, foraging, reproduction and queen production, as well as impairing bee immune systems making them more susceptible to parasites and disease.

In light of the  shortcomings of federal action”¯to protect these beneficial  organisms,  pollinators need pesticide-free habitat  throughout communities.   You can also declare your garden, yard, park or other space as pesticide-free and pollinator friendly. It does not matter how large or small your pledge is, as long as you contribute to the creation of safe pollinator habitat.”¯Sign the pledge today! Need ideas on creating the perfect pollinator habitat? The”¯Bee Protective Habitat Guide”¯can tell you which native plants are right for your region. For more information on what you can do, visit our  BEE Protective  page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: EPA News Release

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6 Responses to “Public Comment Needed on EPA’s Plans To Allow Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor despite Elevated Bee Losses”

  1. 1
    Sabri Ipek Says:

    In light of the importance of all bees for our food system and many other plants, and considering that large number of bees and other wild pollinators have mass die offs in recent years, approving a pesticide with even a possibility of hurting bees and other wildlife would be madness. The pesticides should not be used but if we have to use them the manufacturers must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that their products do not harm the bees and any other native pollinators. Destroying whole ecosystems for short term profits and because the government organization ties to these corporations are not acceptable excuses.

  2. 2
    Janette Warren Says:

    STOP KILLING OUR BEES. WHEN THEY DIE, WE WILL FOLLOW.

  3. 3
    Jane Riskin Says:

    Our bees must be protected – they assure our food supply, and that must be your priority – to Protect the Environment. PLEASE – do not be influenced by chemical companies – you know the right thing to do, what is morally right. Thank you.

  4. 4
    T Mo Says:

    Keep any toxic stuff off the sleeves and help to keep the environment and of creation healthy as can be. Thank you.

  5. 5
    T Mo Says:

    Please do the right thing ~ thank you!

  6. 6
    Tammy Nogles Says:

    Our bees matter for human survival! They are involved in every bit of our ecosystem and must be protected, not to mention increased in number, because of your past destruction. Step up for our earth, from the tiniest to the greatest, we need a major change for our bees!

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