EPA Pesticide Decision and Bee Colony Health

Los Angeles Times writer Geoffrey Mohan reported recently that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backed away from tough restrictions on how pesticides can be used while honeybees are pollinating crops, and it declared that three of the pesticides most closely associated with bee deaths are safe in most applications.

“The assessments, released late Thursday [Jan. 12th], conclude that clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran can kill bees and their larvae individually, but that in ‘most approved uses’ they ‘do not pose significant risks to bee colonies‘ at the exposure levels expected to be found on fields.

Those conclusions are likely to allow growers to keep using the chemicals — which are ingredients in dozens of products — to protect millions of acres of soybeans, corn, cotton, vegetables, fruit and nuts, including 439,000 acres in California.”

Mr. Mohan indicated that, “The federal agency also released an assessment Thursday [Jan. 12] of how a fourth chemical, imidacloprid, affects aquatic life; a study of imidacloprid’s effect on bees was released last year. All four are in a category known as neonicotinoids, which have been linked to a precipitous decline in bee colony populations since 2006.

“The moves came as the EPA prepares for its transition to the Trump administration. President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency, former Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, has sued the agency over its enforcement of the Clean Water Act and other regulations.”

The risk assessments will form the scientific foundation for labeling requirements on the chemicals under federal pesticide laws, expected to be completed next year. Those rules are strictly enforceable, and the process of writing them is closely watched by growers, the agrochemical industry and environmentalists,” the L.A. Times article said.

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