FRISCO — New EPA labeling requirements for neonicotinoid pesticides will help, but don’t go far enough to protect honey bees, watchdog groups said last week.
The changes come amidst growing concern over a global honey bee die-off that threatens food crops.
The systemic neonicotinoids are absorbed by the whole plant; when bees come into contact with the pollen or nectar, they are exposed to the toxins, which have been shown to supress immune functions.
Last week, a study by the Pesticide Research Institute showed that neonicotinoids are even present in ornamental nursery plants commonly used by backyard gardeners.
“Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts,”
“While this is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of what is needed to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticides that a growing body of evidence show are harming and killing them,” said Friends of the Earth food program director Lisa Archer. “It’s unclear from the EPA press statement and website if consumer products containing neonicitinoids, or plants pre-treated with these pesticides, would be required to carry this label. These products must be labeled,” Archer said.
The EPA said it will work with beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, pesticide and seed companies, and federal and state agencies to reduce pesticide drift dust and advance best management practices. The EPA recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of bee-kill incidents.
More on the EPA’s label changes and pollinator protection efforts: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html