Boston, MA. – Eight months after pledging to examine the impact of four different pesticides on the health of pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the first results are in, and they’re bad news for bees.
The pesticide imidacloprid, a member of the highly-toxic class of chemicals neonicotinoids, can indeed harm bees, EPA reports in an assessment published today.
“Given that neonics are 6,000 times more toxic than DDT, the results of this study are not surprising,” said Environment America executive director Margie Alt. “Scientists and bee-keepers have long known that these pesticides threaten bees. That’s why EPA should place an immediate moratorium on this dangerous class of chemicals.”
Bees pollinate most of the world’s most common crops, nearly one out of every three bites of food. But bees are dying by the millions, with roughly 30 percent of all bee colonies collapsing each year.
One culprit is the widely-used class of pesticides called neonics. A study published last year in Nature found that seeds treated with neonics had negative impacts on wild bees, and dozens of lab studies have demonstrated that neonics can kill bees directly as well as impede their ability to pollinate.
Last May EPA began a process by which four types of neonics—imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran – would be assessed for negative affects on pollinators by 2017. It suspended approval of new uses of the chemicals, and banned their application in limited circumstances. Yet even as major garden retailers Lowes and Home Depot are phasing out their sale of the pesticides and some states and cities move to ban them, the use of neonics remains legal and common nationwide.
“We can’t afford to wait,” said Alt. “We need EPA to save the bees and ban these neonics now.”