The EPA has developed new warning labels for certain pesticides that contain neonicotinoids. The warning labels come in response to a report released by the European Food Safety Authority, which identified “high acute risks” for bees including exposure to dust in several crops and residues in pollen and nectar. Following the report, the European Commission proposed restrictions and regulations on the use of neonicotinoids.
From the EPA’s website: “Based on currently available data, the EPA’s scientific conclusions are similar to those expressed in the EFSA report with regard to the potential for acute effects and uncertainty about chronic risk. However, the EFSA report does not address risk management, which, under U.S. federal law, is a key component of the EPA’s pesticide regulatory scheme.”
A Step in the right direction – but not enough
Despite being in agreement with the EFSA’s scientific report, the EPA decided not to ban or severely restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until they are re-evaluated. Instead, the EPA came out with new warning labels. The warning labels prohibit the use of some pesticides where bees are present and have a bee advisory box with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The EPA’s announcement affects pesticides containing the neocitinoids: imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
Although this is a big step in protecting our bees, environmental groups claim that it isn’t enough. A report by Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute shows that many “bee friendly” garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other garden centers have actually been treated with neonicotinoids, which have been shown to harm and kill bees.
Because of this, Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups sent letters and petitions signed by more than 175,000 people to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and other retailers, asking that they stop selling neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with the pesticides.
“We must take immediate action to address this crisis. Europe has banned bee-harming pesticides, retailers in the UK are refusing to sell them, and stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have a moral obligation to make the same commitment here in the U.S.,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Food and Technology Program at Friends of the Earth. “In the meantime, gardeners should start their plants from untreated seeds or choose organic plants for their gardens.”
After 50,000 bees died in a Target parking lot in Oregon, the Oregon Department of Agriculture prohibited the cosmetic use of pesticides containing dinotefuran. Furthermore, House Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and John Conyers of Michigan introduced the Save American’s Pollinators Act, which, if passed, would suspend the use of neonicotinoids on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all of the available data, including field studies.