A University of Arkansas department of entomology professor says neonicotinoids do not harm pollinators, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not delay approving new applications for using the pesticides.
“I’m extremely disappointed the EPA has chosen this path,” Gus Lorenz said this week. “We feel, based on our work, that neonicotinoid pesticides provide very little risk to pollinators, particularly honey bees. It’s a slap in the face to our research and other research as well.”
The EPA said April 2 it will not approve new applications for neonicotinoid pesticides until new data on the risks to honeybees and other pollinators has been submitted and assessed. Lorenz said that research already has been shared with the EPA.
Lorenz’s research involved three of the mid-South’s most popular crops: soybeans, feed corn and cotton. The research team raised its own bees last season, and then put the bees in high production crop areas over a 2.5-mile radius. All the seeds used in the crops were treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.
“We collected data from the bee hives during the season. We collected the bees, wax, pollen they brought back to the hive, the pupas in the hive, the nectar they collected, and our results found they didn’t pick up any of the neonicotinoids, zero,” Lorenz said.
The reason bees did not pick up any traces of the pesticides is because at the time the bees pollinated from the crops the neonicotinoids were no longer present, Lorenz said.
“When the treated seeds come up out of the ground the neonicotinoid level is high but it quickly disperses through the plant as it grows,” he said. “When the plant goes from vegetative to flower there’s no neonicotinoids left.”
Flowers from soybeans and pollen from corn was also tested. Research found extremely low levels of neonicotinoids in the corn and nothing in cotton and soy, Lorenz said.
Lorenz said he hopes the EPA will approve the use of neonicotinoid pesticide after it has time to study more data.
“I hope after they look at the extent of data already published by us and others that they can only come to the same conclusion we have. As used in the mid-South, there is no impact on honey bees,” he said.