Despite scientific studies that have shown certain neonicotinoid pesticides to be harmful to bees, U.S. EPA continues to approve of their widespread use. According to a report by Todd Woody, “Environmental groups have identified one culprit,” in the collapse of honeybee populations world-wide as, “US authorities who continue to approve pesticides implicated in the apian apocalypse.”
Case in point: The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conditional approval in May of sulfoxaflor, a type of agricultural pesticide known as a neonicotinoid. The European Union has banned neonicotinoids for two years in response to scientific studies linking their use to the sudden death of entire beehives, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Over the past six years, CCD has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives worth $2 billion. Bee colonies in the US are so decimated that it takes 60% of the nation’s bee population to pollinate a single crop, California almonds. And that’s not just a local problem; California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds.
Now environmental and food safety groups are seeking to overturn the EPA’s green-lighting of neonicotinoids in a series of lawsuits that for the first time invoke the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the bees. “EPA inadequately considered, or ignored entirely, sulfoxaflor’s harm to pollinators and the significant costs that harm will impose on the agricultural economy, food security, and natural ecosystems,” attorneys for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety and other groups argued in a legal brief (PDF) filed in December in litigation aiming to revoke the approval of sulfoxaflor.
Another lawsuit filed in March in federal court in northern California by the Center for Food Safety asks a federal judge to overturn the EPA’s approval of two widely-used neonicotonioid pesticides called clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
Both cases argue that the EPA violated the ESA by failing to adequately consider the impact of the pesticides not just on honey bees but on a host of imperiled wildlife listed as threatened or endangered under federal law—from the Ohlone tiger beetle to the Quino checkerspot butterfly.
Read the full report, click here.