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EPA Identifies Risks from Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Delays Needed Action

January 12, 2017
Center for Food Safety

Risk assessments of neonicotinoids show toxicity to pollinators, other species

WASHINGTON— Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a much-anticipated series of analyses of risks associated with several bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. The risk assessments include preliminary findings regarding the investigation into the potential harms to pollinators from three chemical insecticides – clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran – along with an update to the imidacloprid pollinator assessment that was published in January 2016. EPA also released a draft assessment for risks to aquatic species from imidacloprid. Scientific studies have consistently shown that neonicotinoids have catastrophically-toxic impacts on bee populations, yet current federal regulations of these chemicals are inadequate to protect pollinators from harm.

“Even in their limited scope these risk assessments clearly show harm to bees and other pollinators from uses of neonics. But rather than suspend uses of these harmful chemicals while the agency continues to gather more data, EPA is refusing to take strong regulatory action until late 2018 or 2019,” said Larissa Walker, Center for Food Safety Pollinator Program Director. “Bees and beekeepers have already waited too long for much-needed government protections for pollinators. The time for the EPA to take action is now.”

Numerous other governments have already implemented restrictions on uses of these chemicals, including the European Union.

“EPA’s preliminary risk assessments for clothianidin and thiamethoxam are unreliable because they are based on Bayer and Syngenta’s honey bee colony feeding studies, which EPA has stated are inadequate,” said Peter Jenkins, Counsel for Center for Food Safety. “The risk assessments rely on these defective over-wintering field studies, even though they are currently being re-done by the companies. Further, it is obvious from these documents that EPA is continuing to downplay the harm from coated crop seeds, especially corn seeds. EPA has vastly understated the high number of known bee kill incidents, and has flatly refused to address in its risk assessment the bee kills and pesticidal dust-off, and the widespread contamination this dust-off has caused.”

Center for Food Safety will be thoroughly evaluating the several-hundreds of pages of documents included in the risk assessments and will be responding with regulatory recommendations during the 60-day public comment period.


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