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PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


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Court: EPA Should Not Have Approved Bee-Killing Pesticide

The pesticide sulfoxaflor should not have been registered because it can kill bees and other pollinators, according to a federal court ruling. Credit: AcryllicArtist/morguefile.com
The pesticide sulfoxaflor should not have been registered because it can kill bees and other pollinators, according to a federal court ruling. Credit: AcryllicArtist/morguefile.com
September 14, 2015

MIDLAND, Mich. - A pesticide that kills bees should not have been cleared for agricultural use by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Michigan-based Dow Chemical's sulfoxaflor was not thoroughly researched when it comes to impacts on bees.

Michele Colopy, program director with the Pollinator Stewardship Council, one of the groups that filed the suit, says the chemical is proven to be highly toxic to bees and other pollinators and those impacts need better assessment.

"EPA did not follow through with its own requirement of getting scientific-based evidence to prove that the pesticide was not going to adversely impact pollinators," she says.

Colopy adds that pollination services are worth at least $20 billion a year in the U.S. There is a waiting period before the decision is final, and Dow could ask for a re-hearing. Sulfoxaflor has been available in several name-brand pesticide mixtures for agricultural crops. It's a systemic neurotoxin that insects ingest when they suck, chew or collect nectar and pollen from a plant.

There's another key finding in the ruling that Colopy welcomes. The court stated that sulfoxaflor is a subclass of neonicotinoids which are thought to be a factor in honeybee declines, and there are several "neonics" on the market. She says the pollinator ecosystem needs careful consideration when any pesticide is approved or used.

"It is not looking at the entire organism of a hive," she says. "It's not about just the adult forager bee. Bee colonies are an organism, and if one aspect of the workforce gets damaged, it damages the entire organism of the colony."

The pesticide is marketed as a way to manage aphids, weevils and other sap-sucking crop pests, typically used on crops that don't depend on pollinators.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI