Beekeepers Win Lawsuit Against EPA Over Insecticide Approval

Josephine Marcotty reported in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune that, “A Minnesota beekeeper has won a round against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a protracted lawsuit over a class of insecticides implicated in the decline of honeybees and other wild insects.

“A federal judge in California ruled this week that, in doing a regular review of the pesticides, the EPA failed to consider the potential impact of neonicotinoids on insects on the federal Endangered Species list, as required by law.

“‘The EPA pretty much admitted that it had failed to do that in this case, so it was pretty hard for the judge to rule in their favor,’ said Steve Ellis, a Minnesota beekeeper who was a plaintiff in the suit. Ellis has been at the forefront of the fight against widespread use of neonicotinoids and is a member of Minnesota’s Governor’s Committee on Pollinator Protection.”

The article noted that, “Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that the EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.

“The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Food Safety, other environmental groups and several beekeepers, challenged the EPA’s approval of several neonicotinoid products, a class of insecticides that are the most widely used in the world.

Although honeybees are not on the Endangered Species list, the plaintiffs invoked the law in a broad challenge to the way the EPA reviews pesticides.”

Ms. Marcotty added that, “One of the most common uses for neonicotinoids is to coat seeds for corn, soybeans, and other commodity crops widely planted in Minnesota and other Midwestern states. The compounds are absorbed by the plant as it grows, making it toxic to pests. But they have also been shown to be harmful to honeybees and other insects that feed on pollen or are exposed to it during planting time.

“The manufacturers say that no definitive link has been proven between neonicotinoids and the sharp decline in bee populations.”

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