The group's response is in reaction to debates over the use of such systemic pesticides as neonics and their effect on the honey bee population, which have some environmental organizations arguing that current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are not acceptable.
“Neonics have a high toxicity to honey bees compared to other pesticides, but exposure is kept to a minimum when they are applied correctly,” Ray McAllister, senior director of regulatory policy at CLA, recently told EP News Wire.
“Honey bees are crucial to agricultural production, and the key to promoting their health lies in farmers and beekeepers working together,” Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA, has stated previously. “Through communication at the local level, growers and those providing contract pollination services can tailor solutions that work in their specific geographic areas. The crop protection industry supports the sound and responsible usage of pesticide technology to reduce pests and fight crop disease, and we will continue to work with growers, beekeepers, regulators and other stakeholders to support bee health.”
Despite the recent controversies surrounding EPA regulations and neonics, McAllister explained that CLA “works in close collaboration with the American Seed Trade Association to promote careful use of neonics. We try to educate both the facilities that treat seeds and the planters who use them. With strong stewardship outreach, we help make sure they are both following the proper procedures.”
McAllister explained that modern seed treatments, such as neonics, help produce healthier, more uniform crops, increase crop value and allow growers to plant earlier in the season, while at the same time reducing potential environmental exposure through an increasingly precise application method.
“Heavily restricting or banning neonics places greater selection pressures on insect pests, which could develop resistance to the fewer remaining insecticide treatments, making it more difficult to protect the crops,” McAllister said.
In the 2013 report, "The Role of Seed Treatment in modern U.S. Crop Production," CropLife Foundation (CLF) explains that “Seed treatment refers to the direct application of crop protection products to the surface of a seed prior to planting. This method of crop protection suppresses, controls and repels pathogens, insects and other pests that threaten to limit seed viability and health from the time that the seed enters the soil through its development."
Seed treatment "also helps protect high-quality seed that has been enhanced through other agricultural technologies, such as hybrid or genetically modified seed, resulting in added value to growers,” CLF states.
The CLF report also cites research conducted throughout the country on some of the measurable, beneficial impacts of seed treatments including on growers, the environment and the economy. For instance, seed treatments help increase yields of crops due to earlier planting; decrease soil surface exposure compared with broadcast sprays or in-furrow applications; and raise crop stand, which increases the value of crops. Strict product labeling standards established by EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture also ensure that products and seeds are used responsibly.
“Through a periodic review process, EPA continues to assess any potential risks of neonicotinoids and other crop protection products,” CLF notes.
“Applying neonicotinoids as a seed treatment is one of the most precise and environmentally responsible methods of crop protection, allowing growers to significantly minimize any potential worker and environmental exposure,” CLA has previously stated. “Studies that inaccurately target neonicotinoids as the sole contributor to pollinator decline, and that call for further regulatory restriction on these products do little to advance solutions for improving pollinator health and threaten to reduce agricultural production.”