Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

EPA Tells Beekeepers to Buzz off Despite Chronic Bee Kills Linked to Pesticides

Center for Food Safety

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

On July 19 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it formally refused to recognize that honey bees face an “imminent hazard” and denied a request by beekeepers to immediately suspend the use of pesticides that pose harm to pollinators. The decision comes in response to a legal petition filed earlier this year by 25 beekeepers and environmental organizations, citing significant acute and chronic bee kills across the U.S. linked to neonicotinoid pesticides.

“We’re disappointed. EPA has signaled a willingness to favor pesticide corporations over bees and beekeepers,” said Steve Ellis, a petitioner and owner of Old Mill Honey Co, with operations in California and Minnesota. “This decision puts beekeepers, rural economies and our food system at risk. And the injury we are sustaining this year will be unnecessarily repeated.”

This spring and summer, beekeepers from New York to Ohio and Minnesota, are reporting extraordinarily large bee die-offs, due, in part, to exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides. The die-offs are similar to what beekeepers have reported in the past few weeks in Canada (where EPA has admitted there are 120 bee kill reports, a huge number). On average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that beekeepers have been losing more than 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year since 2006—but some are losing many more times that number.

“EPA has failed in its statutory responsibility to protect beekeeper livelihoods and the environment from an ‘imminent hazard,’” said Peter Jenkins, attorney at Center for Food Safety and author of the legal petition filed in late March. “The agency explicitly refused to consider the massive amount of supplemental information we submitted that came to light after we filed the petition, as bees started dying in large numbers this Spring during the April and May corn planting season.”

Last month, more than 250,000 people from across the country urged EPA to follow the science and move swiftly to suspend the use of the neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin. At the same time, pesticide manufacturer Bayer CropScience has misleadingly attempted to discredit and refute new key scientific information showing the hazard clothianidin poses to bees.

“EPA has caved to corporate pressure and failed to follow the science,” said Paul Towers, media director for Pesticide Action Network and co-petitioner. “This is a reminder of the power and influence of pesticide corporations, despite significant impacts to the livelihood of beekeepers and rural economies.”

While refusing to issue an immediate suspension, the agency has agreed to open a 60-day public comment docket to review additional points raised in the legal petition, starting next week. The agency expects to complete its evaluation in 2018 and any implementation plans could take years beyond that to complete. Beekeepers and environmental groups cite EPA’s current timeline for making a decision on the safety of neonicotinoids for honey bees as too slow, and filed the “imminent hazard” claim in hopes of more immediate action.

“Bees and beekeepers can’t wait around for more agency inaction,” said Mark Keating, senior scientist at Beyond Pesticides, a co-petitioner. “We’ll have to consider all other options in order to protect the food and farming system.”

The science showing the impacts of neonicotinoid products on bees continues to grow as federal policymakers ignore the mounting evidence. Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science documents that pesticides are a key factor in explaining honey bee declines, both directly and in tandem with two leading co-factors, pathogens and poor nutrition. Recent studies, in the U.S. and in Europe, have shown that small amounts of neonicotinoids—both alone and in combination with other pesticides—can cause impaired communication, disorientation, decreased longevity, suppressed immunity and disruption of brood cycles in honeybees. Neonicotinoid treatment of corn seeds is thought to be one of the leading pathways for exposure.

Visit EcoWatch's BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less