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.
"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.
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."