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Daily News Blog

09
May

With Decision on Insecticide, EPA Betrays Protection of Pollinators. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2022) While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments, or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds are also at risk. Bird numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

Tell EPA To Protect Against Other Threats to Pollinators. Tell Congress To Insist that EPA Does Its Job.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

Exposure to this commonly used fungicide considered to be ‘slightly toxic or nontoxic’ to pollinators makes male mason bees less likely to find a mate, jeopardizing future generations of critically important pollinators. This determination comes from research recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by scientists at Germany’s University of Würzburg. The timing of these findings comes after the EPA reapproved uses of fenbuconazole late last year without completing all required studies on pollinator health effects.

EPA’s action on fenbuconazole follows other actions by the agency that threaten pollinators, such as neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides. Despite EPA’s own findings of evidence of serious threats posed by neonics to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on them in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts and it appears that the agency is prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022. This would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years.

EPA’s history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in findings of ludicrously small or no risk continues with its announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion—another example of an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases. Malathion poses a threat to 97 percent of species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including Kirtland’s Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Bats, who are valuable pollinators, insectivores, and seed dispersers, are at high risk from pesticide exposure.

After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, EPA has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from exposure to these toxic chemicals, despite a legal requirement to do so. Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides are synthesized derivatives of pyrethrins, which compared to their natural counterpart take significantly longer to degrade in the environment and thus pose longer term risks to humans and wildlife. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system. Symptoms of poisoning include headache, nausea, incoordination, tremors, and facial swelling, with severe incidents causing diarrhea, convulsions, paralysis, and death. “The EPA admits pyrethroids’ wide-ranging harm to wildlife but still rubberstamps hundreds of pesticide products containing them without assessing their risks to endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

To help avert ecosystem collapse, EPA must complete pollinator assessments and ban pesticides, including fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, shown to imperil populations of insects and other pollinators.

Tell EPA To Protect Against Other Threats to Pollinators. Tell Congress To Insist that EPA Does Its Job.

Letter to EPA (Administrator, Assistant Admininstrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs):

While EPA updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, bird numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

Exposure to this commonly used fungicide makes male mason bees less likely to find a mate, jeopardizing future generations of critically important pollinators, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by scientists at Germany’s University of Würzburg. These findings come after the EPA reapproved uses of fenbuconazole late last year without completing all required studies on pollinator health effects.

EPA’s action on fenbuconazole follows actions on other pesticides that threaten pollinators, such as neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides. Despite EPA’s own findings of evidence of serious threats posed by neonics to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, interim decisions in January 2020 disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts, and it appears that the agency is prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022, extending the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years.

EPA’s history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in findings of ludicrously small or no risk continues with its announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion—another example of an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse. Malathion poses a threat to 97 percent of species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including Kirtland’s Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Bats, who are valuable pollinators, insectivores, and seed dispersers, are at high risk from pesticide exposure.

After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, EPA has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from exposure to these toxic chemicals, despite legal requirement to do so. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system.

To help avert ecosystem collapse, EPA must complete pollinator assessments and ban pesticides, including fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, shown to imperil populations of insects and other pollinators.

Letter to U.S. House of Representatives and Senate:

While EPA updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop yields and help with resistance management.” While the agency added additional restrictive language on spray drift, it implemented no new precautionary measures for pollinators. With the only indications that this chemical is dangerous to pollinators deep in EPA’s dense review documents the public rarely if ever reads, the agency continues to fail pollinators, farmers, and the public.  

Exposure to this commonly used fungicide makes male mason bees less likely to find a mate, jeopardizing future generations of critically important pollinators, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by scientists at Germany’s University of Würzburg. These findings come after the EPA reapproved uses of fenbuconazole late last year without completing all required studies on pollinator health effects.

EPA’s action on fenbuconazole follows actions on other pesticides that threaten pollinators, such as neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides. Despite EPA’s own findings of evidence of serious threats posed by neonics to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, interim decisions in January 2020 disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts, and it appears that the agency is prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022, extending the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years.

EPA’s history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in findings of ludicrously small or no risk continues with its announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion—another example of an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse. Malathion poses a threat to 97 percent of species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including Kirtland’s Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Bats, who are valuable pollinators, insectivores, and seed dispersers, are at high risk from pesticide exposure.

After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, EPA has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from exposure to these toxic chemicals, despite legal requirement to do so. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system.

To help avert ecosystem collapse, please ensure that EPA completes pollinator assessments and bans pesticides, including fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, shown to imperil populations of insects and other pollinators.

Thank you.

 

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