US court rules bee-harming pesticide wrongly approved by regulator

by Search Gate staff. Published Fri 11 Sep 2015 12:21, Last updated: 2015-09-11
Judges rule against EPA in pesticide case
Judges rule against EPA in pesticide case

The US Court of Appeal has over-turned the approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) of a controversial bee-harming pesticide, sulfoxaflor, classified as a 'sub class' of neonicotinoids, which has also been approved for use in Europe.

UK Government approval is now needed before products containing Dow Chemical’s sulfoxaflor can be sprayed on British crops.

In the US case, the Court said the regulators approved without adequate information about the ‘sub lethal’ effects of the pesticide over time on honey bee colonies.

Friends of the Earth bees campaigner, Sandra Bell, said: “US regulators have been caught approving this harmful pesticide without proper evidence about the risks to bees. The European Commission recently approved this pesticide, despite being warned of potential risks to bees, paving the way for more bee harming products to be used in our fields.

"Pesticides should be tested rigorously before they are allowed to be used. The way they are tested and licensed for use in the US and in Europe is too full of holes to keep our bees safe.

"The US ruling should be a warning to the UK Government not to allow any new bee harming products to be used in the UK".

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honeybee colonies.

The Court vacated EPA’s approval, meaning that sulfoxaflor may not be used in the US unless, and until, EPA obtains the necessary information regarding impacts to honeybees and re-approves the insecticide in accordance with law.

Legal campaign group Earthjustice represented a coalition of commercial beekeeping trade groups, as well as individual commercial beekeepers. The coalition included Pollinator Stewardship Council, National Honeybee Advisory Board, American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation and beekeepers Jeff Anderson, Rick Smith, and Brett Adee.

Lead counsel on the case Greg Loaire commented: “Our country is facing widespread bee colony collapse, and scientists are pointing to pesticides like sulfoxaflar as the cause. The Court's decision to overturn approval of this bee-killing pesticide is incredible news for bees, beekeepers and all of us who enjoy the healthy fruits, nuts, and vegetables that rely on bees for pollination."

Michele Colopy, programme director of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, said: “We can protect crops from pests and protect honey bees and native pollinators. To do this EPA’s pesticide application and review process must receive substantial scientific evidence as to the benefits of a pesticide, as well as the protection of the environment, especially the protection of pollinators."

The Court did state Sulfoxaflor is a subclass of neonicotinoids. With the findings in this case EPA may be encouraged to re-examine other unconditional registrations for possible flawed and limited data.




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