EPA Proposes Pesticide Rules to Protect Pollinators
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. - EPA is proposing to prohibit the applications of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees when crops are in bloom and bees are under contract for pollination services. These restrictions would prohibit application of most insecticides and some herbicides during bloom.
Growers routinely contract with honey bee keepers to bring in bees to pollinate their crops that require insect pollination. Bees are typically present during the period the crops are in bloom. Application of pesticides during this period can significantly affect the health of bees.
These restrictions are expected to reduce the likelihood of high levels of pesticide exposure and mortality for bees providing pollination services. Moreover, EPA believes these additional measures to protect bees providing pollination services will protect other pollinators as well.
The proposed restrictions would apply to all products that have:
- Liquid or dust formulations as applied;
- Foliar use (applying pesticides directly to crop leaves) directions for use on crops; and
- Active ingredients that have been determined via testing to have high toxicity for bees (less than 11 micrograms per bee).
The proposed restrictions would not replace more restrictive, chemical-specific, bee-protective provisions that may already be on a product label. Additionally, the proposed label restrictions would not apply to applications made in support of a government-declared public health response, such as use for wide area mosquito control. There would be no other exceptions to these proposed restrictions.
On August 28, AmericanHort submitted official comments in response to EPA’s proposal. The Society of American Florists and Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute joined in signing on to the comment submission.
The EPA proposal seeks to restrict applications of a wide array of pesticide-active ingredients when bees are providing contact pollination services. While AmericanHort’s comments were generally positive with respect to EPA’s intent, they cautioned that EPA’s approach deviates from EPA’s traditional science-based risk analysis approach, and may have unintended negative consequences.