Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Portland bans neonicotinoid pesticides

Portland, Oregon, recently joined Seattle and Spokane, Washington, in banning neonicotinoid pesticides due to a perceived negative impact on bees and the environment.

The move comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on April 2 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.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Bureau of Portland Parks & Recreation, recently told the EP News Wire that she was asked by community advocates, including Beyond Toxins and the Audubon Society of Portland, to ban the pesticides.

“We don’t use [neonicotinoid pesticides] all that much,” Fritz said. “The concern was long-term effects of the pesticides.”

The measure passed by a 5-0 vote on April 1.

One of the benefits of neonicotinoid pesticides, Fritz said, is its low cost and ease of application. The city will now explore using new pesticides.

“We have a midge problem, and we are looking at ways to deal with this pest," Fritz said. "We have a lot of volunteers who have offered to help with manual labor involved that will be used to help with the new pesticide.”

Some scientists and researchers say that neonicotinoids do not cause harm to bees, and that bee populations are actually trending higher.