Beekeepers Sue EPA over Failure to Protect Bees from Pesticides

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Applying thiamethoxam (photo: University of California, Davis)

A group of beekeepers, environmentalists and food safety advocates are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force the agency to ban certain pesticides linked to harming bees.


The plaintiffs, who include the Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Action Network, want nerve agents known as neonicotinoids to be prohibited from use in the United States. Neonicotinoids are a relatively new group of insecticides, having been introduced in the 1990s.


The European Union is already considering a ban on the pesticides, but a March 15 vote was indecisive, with opposition coming primarily from Germany and the United Kingdom.


“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported,” Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper and one of the plaintiffs, said in a press release. “Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees.”


The pesticides named in the lawsuits are Bayer’s clothianidin and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.


Several scientific studies have linked neonicotinoids to harmful effects in bees, including the loss of a large number of queens. Recent declines in populations of bees and other pollinators have also been blamed on disease and habitat loss. Other studies have dealt with the threat of neonicotinoids to birds.


The EPA has promised to review neonicotinoids and complete their study by…2018.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

US Government Sued Over Use of Pesticides Linked To Bee Harm (by Damian Carrington, The Guardian)

Greens Blame EPA for Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (by William Dotinga, Courthouse News Service)

Beekeepers and Public Interest Groups Sue EPA Over Bee-Toxic Pesticides (Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides)

The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds (by Pierre Mineua and Cynthia Palmer, American Bird Conservancy) (pdf)

Blamed for Bee Population Collapse, Monsanto Buys Bee Collapse Research Group (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Mass Honeybee Deaths Linked to Insecticide (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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