Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Beekeeping Organizations Appeal Sulfoxaflor Registration

Jul 8: National Beekeeping organizations along with the National Honey Bee Advisory Board have come together in an attempt to protect the bee industry by an appeal against EPA for its approval of the pesticide Sulfoxaflor, which they indicate has been shown to be "highly toxic" to honey bees, and other insect pollinators. Sulfoxaflor is a new chemistry, and the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the "neonicotinoid" class of pesticides, which scientists across the globe have linked as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony collapse. The case is filed as the beekeeping industry across the country struggles for survival, and faces the costly effects of pesticides upon their businesses. The groups are being represented by the public interest law organization Earthjustice. The appeal process through the courts is the only mechanism open to challenge EPA's decision; it is commonly used by commodity groups to rectify inadequate pesticide labeling.
    The National Pollinator Defense Fund, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas R. Smith have filed the appeal against U.S. EPA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting changes needed in the Sulfoxaflor label, the Biological Economic Assessment Division (BEAD) assessment of the value of pollinators and their established habits, and the EPA's Risk Assessment Process. According to a release, the changes would acknowledge pollinator's critical role in the U.S. food supply, and ensure that decisions regarding new pesticides comply with applicable laws.

    Sulfoxaflor was granted a full registration by EPA for most crops, many of which require pollinators. Many other registered crops are utilized by pollinators, including honey bees, as forage. Based on the approved registration, pollinators, especially honey bees, may potentially be exposed numerous times by labeled Sulfoxaflor applications as honey bees are moved across the country to pollinate crops, produce the nation's supply of honey, and recuperate from the rigors of pollination.

    On May 6, 2013, EPA granted unconditional registrations for the new active ingredient sulfoxaflor, formulated as a manufacturing use product and two end-use products for use in production agriculture. EPA is granted the use of sulfoxaflor on barley, bulb vegetables, canola, citrus, cotton, cucurbit vegetables, fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables, low-growing berries, okra, ornamentals (herbaceous and woody), pistachio, pome fruits, root and tuber vegetables, small vine climbing fruit (except fuzzy kiwifruit), soybean, stone fruit, succulent, edible podded and dry beans, tree nuts, triticale, turfgrass, watercress and wheat. The registrant is Dow AgroSciences LLC.

    Attorney Janette Brimmer of Earthjustice said, "Our country is facing widespread bee colony collapse, and scientists are pointing to pesticides like Sulfoxaflar as the cause. The effects will be devastating to our nation's food supply and also to the beekeeping industry, which is struggling because of toxic pesticides. This lawsuit against the EPA is attempt by the beekeepers to save their suffering industry. The EPA has failed them. And the EPA's failure to adequately consider impacts to pollinators from these new pesticides is wreaking havoc on an important agricultural industry and gives short shrift to the requirements of the law."

    According to an Earthjustice release, EPA is required by FIFRA to determine that a pesticide does not pose an unreasonable risk to the environment or to economic interests such as that of the bee industry. Earthjustice indicates that "EPA's testing did not adequately examine the impact of acute and sub-lethal poisoning of adult honey bees, brood, bee life span, in light the dynamics of the colony organism. The EPA's reviewed research and analysis of bee foraging behavior and habits is being questioned based on long accepted publications; the Agency lacked the necessary data on how Sulfoxaflor remains systemically absorbed in the crop tissue, and how that may harm bees and bee colonies long term subjected to levels below the lethal toxicity level to adult bees; and the EPA failed entirely to look at how differing amounts of pesticides affect pollinators over time."

    On May 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. The agencies said, "the report represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees." [See WIMS 5/2/13].

    Access a lengthy release from Earthjustice with additional quotes from various parties to the case, additional facts on Sulfoxaflar and links to related information (click here). Access EPA's statement of registration approval and link to the EPA docket for background information (click here). Access the complete 72-page report on honey bee health (click here). [#Agriculture, #Wildlife, #Toxics]

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