Environmental Groups, Beekeepers File Lawsuit To Cancel Seed Treatment Registrations

Last week, the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network North America and the Center for Environmental Health, along with four individual beekeepers, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The complaint filed by the groups alleges that the EPA violated multiple U.S. laws in its actions related to the approval of two pesticide compounds, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, for agricultural use. “The National Corn Growers Association is closely monitoring progress on this case,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor. “We are committed to working with industry partners to defend the use of valuable agricultural tools and ensure government regulations are based in sound sciences instead of alarmist claims.”

The complaint alleges the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act by approving clothianidin and thiamethoxam despite adverse effects to bees and other pollinators. According to the plaintiffs, the aforementioned products have repeatedly been “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 complaint also alleges the EPA violated the Administrative Procedures Act by ignoring environmentalists’ public comments in 2012 which indicated that neonicotinoid seed treatments, such as clothianidin and thiamethoxam, used during spring corn planting killed bees.

Finally, the complaint notes that EPA failed to consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service on endangered species impacts related to 100 clothianidin and thiamethoxam products for the past decade.

While environmentalists assert that EPA has ignored their claims, the Agency recently noted it is not aware of any data showing that honey bee colony losses in the United States are correlated with proper use of pesticides in general or neonicotinoids in particular. Notably, EPA has been highly involved in addressing pollinator health and evaluating new proposed methods for pollinator risk assessment.

During the registration process for neonicotinoids, EPA conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the risks to pollinators and various forms of wildlife. Notably, the EPA continually assesses these risks through an ongoing periodic review process.

“As farmers, we understand how important honey bees and other pollinators are to the production of various crops,” said Taylor. “NCGA will continue to promote stewardship practices that support production while protecting the environment, and we will defend the use of sound science in the regulatory process.”


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