EPA pulls 12 pesticides linked to killing of bees

Environmental groups concerned with the harm pesticides are doing to the population of bees around the globe scored a court victory that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to cancel 12 pesticides last week.

For years, beekeepers and environmental activists have been fighting the use of neonicotinoid (neonics for short) pesticides used by farmers to protect crops from destructive pests.

Unfortunately, bees were caught in the crosshairs of this classification of pesticides and populations were killed because of them even though bees are not pests, but important pollinators that actually benefit farmers.

According to a PBS report, two studies demonstrated links between the pesticides and bee deaths.

Neonicotinoid pesticides commonly found in agricultural areas kill bees and hurt their ability to reproduce, two separate large-scale studies confirmed for the first time Thursday.

The two studies — one that examined honeybees in Canada and the other that looked at three bee species in the United Kingdom, Germany and Hungary — were the first large-scale investigations to test the popular agrochemicals influence on bees in real world settings.

The work also turns many preconceived notions about bees and pesticides on their heads.

Companies that produce the pesticides, Syngenta, Valent and Bayer, reached a settlement with the environmental groups to end the lawsuit in December, and the EPA issued cancellations of the 12 neonic pesticides on May 21st.

“Today’s cancellation of these neonicotinoid pesticides is a hard-won battle and landmark step in the right direction,” Center for Food Safety legal director George Kimbrell said, going on to warn that the fight isn’t over yet because these are just 12 of the 59 pesticide products that contain the harmful chemicals. “This entire class of active ingredient soon will be up for re-registration by 2022. These first 12 were just an interim step.”

Syngenta, however, pretended that there’s nothing harmful about their products in a statement about the settlement.

“After five years of litigation, this settlement represents a positive outcome in the interest of all parties, the statement says. “The terms clearly support America’s farmers while ensuring continued protection of the environment. The settlement allows growers continued access to trusted neonicotinoid products containing thiamethoxam, essential for controlling destructive pests, managing resistance, and supporting integrated pest management.”

But as long as there are pesticides on the market that use bee-killing chemicals, bees will continue to die off and our planet will suffer the consequences, especially farmers who rely on pollinators. Bees pollinate one-third of the global food supply.

What the United States needs to do is ban all of these bee-killing chemicals like the European Union did in April 2018. The only legal use of these pesticides there is currently on plants contained in greenhouses. It’s time for farmers to either adapt and live with pests or find a pesticide that won’t harm bees and other beneficial insects. Because if the bees die, so do we.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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