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Beekeepers Sue EPA Over Pesticide Approvals

March 22, 2013

Beekeepers, Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Pesticide Approval

Honeybees bred at the Tokyo Grain Exchange in Japan. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Bloomberg BNA -- A coalition of beekeepers, environmental groups, and consumer groups filed a lawsuit March 21 against the Environmental Protection Agency for approving the registration of pesticides that the groups claim harm honey bees and other pollinators.

The coalition wants EPA to immediately suspend the registrations of the insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The pesticides have been “repeatedly identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder,” the groups said.

Clothianidin and its parent compound, thiamethoxam, are in a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, and have been shown to harm the survival, growth, and health of honey bees and other pollinators and have harmful effects on other animals, including threatened and endangered species, according to the lawsuit. More than two million pounds of the pesticides are used annually on more than 100 million acres in the United States, according to the lawsuit.

'The pesticides are mislabeled and directions for use are inadequate to prevent harmful effects on the environment, to beekeepers and honey producers.'

Using the pesticides on corn has led to the death of honeybees and other pollinators, which has caused economic hardship for beekeepers and honey producers, the groups say.

Bayer CropScience, which produces clothianidin, asserts that “there has been a long history of the safe use of neonicotinoid insecticides and it is clear that when they are used responsibly and properly, any impact on bees is negligible.”

Four individual beekeepers and the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network North America, and the Center for Environmental Health filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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  • EPA has approved registrations of the pesticides without providing the opportunity for public comment, thereby violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the lawsuit says.

    The pesticides are mislabeled and directions for use are inadequate to prevent harmful effects on the environment, to beekeepers and honey producers, and to endangered species, the lawsuit states.

    The lawsuit also seeks EPA consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service about the impact of the pesticides on native endangered and threatened species.

    The groups filed a notice of intent to sue in September 2012.

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