NRDC | Getting ready to Sue EPA | The bee situation is DIRE Says Jennifer Sass


Natural Resources Defense Council pushes EPA to review neonics, initiate ban

Published on: Jul 15, 2014

The Natural Resources Defense Council has asked the U.S. EPA to ban neonicotinoid pesticides on concerns that they can contribute to honeybee colony loss and the decline of other pollinators.

The request was filed in an emergency petition last week, NRDC said in a press statement, with an accompanying request for a one-year review of neonics' impacts on bees. The group suggests that there is "mounting scientific evidence" neonicotinoid pesticides "are toxic to bees and threaten both individual and population survival." 

Neonics comprise roughly 25% of the global agrochemical market and are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world today, NRDC says. The European Union last April decided to move forward with a temporary suspension on seeds treated with three specific neonicotinoid pesticides.

Natural Resources Defense Council pushes EPA to review neonics, initiate ban. (USDA photo)
Natural Resources Defense Council pushes EPA to review neonics, initiate ban. (USDA photo)

Related: House Subcommittee Reviews Bee Health Research

"The bee situation is dire. Getting rid of these bee-toxic pesticides is one thing we can do right now to stem the decline," said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at NRDC.

The USDA has studied the ongoing loss of pollinators, including honeybees, in conjunction with the U.S. EPA in a report released last year. According to a USDA statement, the report found a variety of factors that could contribute to the losses, including poor nutrition, parasites and limited genetic diversity.

Related: NRCS Pledges $3 Million for Honey Bee Health

The report also found that pesticide exposure could be partly to blame for losses as well.

In its petition, NRDC asks EPA to launch an immediate one-year review of neonics' impact on bees, to determine if the pesticide's use should be prohibited on bee-pollinated crops and ornamental plants – including shrubs and plants sold to consumers as "bee-friendly."

While EPA is scheduled to review neonics' effects on bees in 2019, NRDC says that timeline "cannot be justified." It asks the agency to begin its review within 30 days.

In the longer term, the petition asks the agency to "initiate cancellation proceedings for all neonicotinoid pesticide products, beginning with those for which safer alternatives are available." The European Union has already recognized the dangers of neonics and last year imposed a minimum two-year moratorium on certain neonics being used on crops "attractive to bees."

Related: 'Bee-safe' Biopesticide Could Be Neonicotinoid Alternative

NRDC's request comes as the White House in June initiated the creation of a Pollinator Task Force to develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy, including an assessment of neonics' impact on bees.

According to the White House, pollinators provide more than $24 billion in pollination value.

Natural Resources Group Suggests Neonic Ban, Review – Farm Futures.

Basher says:

Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council is quoted as follows: "The bee situation is dire. Getting rid of these bee-toxic pesticides is one thing we can do right now to stem the decline," This is simply not true: Annual surveys both in the US and Canada clearly show bee colony numbers increasing modestly each of the last few years. Colony health is certainly challenged, w/ about 30% overwintering losses but overall numbers are slowly rising. That something is "highly toxic" is meaningless, level of exposure is what Matters! Example: water is highly toxic at high exposure levels… There are problems when neonics are NOT Properly applied. A significant current problem is airborne dust from pneumatic planters planting treated seed. Problem appears to be solved by using different lubricant as Canada started doing this season with canola, which benefits tremendously w/neonic seed treatment.

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