Reuters reports the in the USA the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a moratorium that will restrict the use of new pesticides that have been blamed for declining bee populations, though the policy does not apply to products currently on the market.
“The chemicals in question, neonicotinoids, are a new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects and result in paralysis and death.”
In this regard the EPA sent letters to companies that have applied for permits to use neonicotinoid pesticides, telling them “the moratorium stands until they have assessed the risks on bee populations. The pesticides are known to have chronic effects on honey bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species, and are considered to be a factor in overall pollinator declines.”
The moratorium however has no effect on the pesticides already on the market and importantly it is well known that the EPA relies on industry-funded science that often contradicts peer-reviewed studies.
The neonicotinoid moratorium affects the chemicals Imidacloprid, Dinotefuran, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam. Research by the Beyond Pesticides group shows that Imidacloprid has been found to be highly toxic to bees and other beneficial insects, upland game birds, and can leach into groundwater. Studies have noted that the chemicals disrupt mobility, navigation and feeding behaviour. Other studies discovered decreases in foraging activity, olfactory learning and decreased hive activity.
The chemical Clothianidin, when used in Germany, caused a massive bee die-off in 2008, with the country subsequently banning the chemical.
Unfortunately this is only a first step and doesn’t address the large scale of these same pesticides that are already approved. Also, in the US – as elsewhere – there is a “spray first, ask questions later” mentality, as opposed to using pesticides when they are really necessary.
Jonathan Evans, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the media, “Now you have the agricultural industry treating every seed – over 80-90 percent of corn or soy are treated with neonicotinoids before they are even planted. They are just bombing everything on the front end to potentially devastate any types of living organisms, even insects that would be beneficial, like pollinators.”
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