Research Strengthens Link Between Pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder, Supports Petitioners' Case for EPA Action

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three studies released in the past two weeks, including one today by Harvard University, add to the growing body of evidence that implicate pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, as one of the most critical factors contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), bolstering the need for regulatory action. The research is timely as beekeepers and environmentalists recently filed a legal petition with EPA calling for the suspension of the neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin.  At a time when beekeepers are losing on average more than one-third of their hives annually, costing rural economies millions of dollars, pesticide manufacturers are attacking the science in order to delay regulatory action.

In the Harvard study released today, researchers found that 94% of the hives had died after exposure to imidacloprid, at levels hypothesized to have been present in high fructose corn syrup since the introduction of neonicotinoids. One of the new Science articles released last week shows that sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure disrupts honeybees' foraging and homing abilities. The other shows that environmentally relevant neonicotinoid exposure causes an 85% reduction in the number of queens produced.

"The weight of the evidence is tipping for neonicotinoids as a critical factor in colony collapse disorder," said Heather Pilatic, co-director of Pesticide Action Network. "While pesticides are not the only problem for honey bees, we know enough to act."

"The industry is predictably pushing back by attacking the science," said John Kepner, program director for Beyond Pesticides. "While we recognize the complexity of the science, we have sufficient scientific basis for taking immediate protective action." 

Nine years ago, EPA required a field study examining clothianidin impacts on non-target insects, because they had reason to believe it may harm pollinators. In 2010, EPA considered Bayer's field study to be flawed and inadequate, beekeeper and environmental organizations wrote to Administrator Lisa Jackson urging immediate action. EPA's lack of response motivated the filing of the formal legal petition two weeks ago to suspend further use of clothianidin and ensure similar pesticides are not approved by the agency.

"EPA should move swiftly to close the loophole and revoke the conditional registration of clothianidin," said Peter Jenkins, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety. "Bees and beekeepers can't afford to wait for more industry misinformation and agency inaction."

Contact:
John Kepner, Beyond Pesticides
202-302-4371
jkepner@beyondpesticides.org

SOURCE Beyond Pesticides



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