EPA used ’emergency’ loophole to approve pesticides toxic to bees on millions of acres in 2019

Image of honey bees on frame.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2019 it issued so-called “emergency” approvals to spray neonicotinoids — pesticides the agency itself recognizes as “very highly toxic” to bees. The great majority of those approvals were issued for the neonicotinoid called sulfoxaflor, prior to the EPA’s July decision to permanently expand its use. That decision, which obviates the need for further emergency approvals, has prompted multiple lawsuits from beekeepers, food-safety and conservation advocates.

Members of European Parliament call for reduction in pesticides to protect bees

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(EU News) The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee for the European Union on Tuesday approved a resolution highlighting weaknesses in the EU Pollinator Initiative that render it inadequate to address the main causes of pollinators’ decline in Europe. The committee proposes that a reduction in the use of pesticides be set as a “common indicator” to evaluate how effective national measures are in protecting bees and other pollinators. To help further decrease pesticide residues in bee habitats, members of the European Parliament want the reduction of pesticide use to become a key part of the future Common Agricultural Policy.

European lawmakers vote to strengthen bee protection

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(StarTribune) The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn’t go far enough. European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to “table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.” They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure.

The EPA has approved the first-ever bee-distributed pesticide for the US market

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(Ars Technica) In August, the EPA approved the first-ever bee-distributed organic pesticide for the US market—a fungus-fighting powder called Vectorite that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called Clonostachys rosea (CR-7). CR-7 is completely harmless to its host plant and acts as a hostile competitor to other, less innocuous fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops like blueberries, strawberries, almonds, and tomatoes.

Beekeepers worried EEE spraying will harm bees in Indiana, Michigan

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(WSBT) In Michigan, tens of thousands of hives could be impacted. Even if bees don’t fly around at night time, that doesn’t mean the pesticide won’t impact their colony. “We don’t have a good sense on how much can be drawn into the hives, because the bees do create airflow in the colonies at night. And we don’t know how much will be deposited on the flowers that the bees will visit the next day.”

EU moves ahead on tightening pesticide risk criteria for bees

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(Bloomberg Environment) The European Union plans to tighten the criteria it uses to assess how harmful pesticides may be to honey bees, potentially making it harder for manufacturers to get authorized for some of their products. The tighter criteria would become mandatory when evaluating how pesticides affect bees in the short-term, under a draft rule the European Parliament’s environment committee discussed Sept. 25.