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Beekeepers Call EPA Approval of Insecticide “Illegal”

U.S. beekeepers have lost more than 40% of their colonies in the past year. (Pixabay)
U.S. beekeepers have lost more than 40% of their colonies in the past year. (Pixabay)
September 12, 2019

LYONS, Neb. – The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed the insecticide sulfoxaflor back onto the market, and a coalition of beekeepers is taking the agency to court.

Greg Loarie, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit, notes the EPA made the decision without any public input.

And he says the move is bad for bees, bad for agriculture, and could put the nation's food security at risk.

"The EPA is removing restrictions on an insecticide that is highly toxic to honeybees and is linked to the global die off that is impacting honeybees really at a very catastrophic level for agricultural concerns," Loarie points out.

After an earlier court ruling, sulfoxaflor was cleared for use within strict parameters designed to protect pollinator species that play a critical role in producing one third of the nation's diet, including vegetables, nuts and fruits.

The EPA's decision is one of a series of efforts to remove protections the agency sees as barriers to business.

Loarie says the EPA's action may help Corteva, the company recently spun off from DowDuPont, but it comes at the expense of the commercial beekeeping industry.

He adds the EPA's job is not to simply bring pesticides to market as quickly as possible. He says the agency has a legal obligation to ensure that any pesticide does not pose unreasonable risk to human health, the environment or agriculture.

"All of us rely on EPA to ensure that the pesticides that we do bring to market are safe, and that they are not having unintended impacts that in this case – in the case of sulfoxaflor – really do pose a significant threat to our agricultural systems and our food security," he states.

The lawsuit was filed last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals' Ninth Circuit. Loarie says the EPA is expected to release the industry-funded studies that support the agency's decision in the next couple of months.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE