Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EPA: New neonicotinoid permits won't be OK'd ahead of study results

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday that it will not approve new applications for neonicotinoid pesticide use until new data on the risks to honeybees has been submitted and assessed.

The EPA said that in an ongoing effort to protect pollinators, the agency sent letters to registrants of neonicotinoids, telling them that it has required new bee-safety studies for its ongoing registration review process. The agency said it must complete its new pollinator-risk assessments, which are based in part on the new data, before it would consider making regulatory decisions on neonicotinoids that would expand their current use.

“The ruling is disappointing in that it’s the way EPA has typically been doing business, and there are companies who (want to make plans), and now they can’t, so changes like this have an effect on how we bring new technologies and new innovations to the marketplace,” Iain Kelly, director of regulatory policy and issue management at Bayer CropScience, said

“There have been a lot of lab studies, and we have submitted numerous field studies to the EPA showing that neonicotinoids do not cause colony losses,” Kelly said. Kelly also said that he is optimistic that the EPA will approve the use of neonicotinoids in the future.

The Obama administration is preparing to release its recommendations from the Pollinator Health Task Force, which was created last year to promote the health of honeybees amid fears that pesticide use could be causing bee deaths.

If neonicotinoids were ever banned by the federal government, “It would have an effect of about $4 billion on the U.S. economy,” Kelly said. Kelly also cited research sponsored by Growing Matters, an organization led by companies that produce neonicotinoids, including Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and Valent U.S.A. Corp., with support from Mitsui Chemicals Agro.

“We see that there would be a huge impact on how farmers are able to produce their crops,” Kelly said. Kelly also said that in some cases, there are no viable alternatives to neonicotinoids needed to combat many hard-to-control insects.

While Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is a large producer of neonicotinoid pesticides, the EPA’s current decision does not affect its business significantly, Kelly said.

Neonicotinoids are a type of systemic insecticide introduced in the 1990s as a result of legislation mandating that manufacturers create less-harmful pesticides. Agriculture, environmental and food safety groups have said they want the federal government to address the threat they said pesticides pose to pollinator populations and the nation’s food supply.

Organizations in this story

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