EPA develops new labels to protect pollinators; industry responds
Photo courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State University; Bugwood.org
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in August developed new pesticide labels that bar the use of some neonicotinoid products in areas where bees are present. According to Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, "Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts."
The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The announcement affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA reports that it will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so they meet the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standard.
(For more on the EPA's pollinator protection efforts, visit http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html.)
The announcement follows reports of a massive bee kill in Oregon earlier this summer (see below). In response to the EPA's plan, the American Nursery and Landscape Association and the Society of American Florists issued a joint letter urging the agency to proceed with caution: Part of the letter reads, "We encourage EPA to avoid making label changes unless those changes are supported by sound science and risk assessment." (To read the entire ANLA/SAF letter, visit http://www.anla.org/docs/government%20relations/epa/EPA-ANLA-SAF-Neonics.pdf)
Joe Bischoff, ANLA's director of government relations, writes on the association's online Knowledge Center, "ANLA understands the importance of pollinators to the agricultural industry and our natural environment, but we also recognize the importance of effective pesticides with reduced environmental impact. Neonicotinoids, when used properly, are vital to the success of the nursery, greenhouse, and landscape industry. They are important tools in defending our trees, shrubs, and plants against destructive invasive species like the Japanese Beetle, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and Asian Longhorned Beetle, and preventing the spread of these and other pests. The neonicotinoid chemistry represents a tremendous advancement over older pesticide treatment options. When used properly, they effectively control problematic insects, while exhibiting far less impact on nontarget insects and their ability for residual control means fewer applications and less applicant exposure."
(To see all of Dr. Bischoff's statement, visit http://www.anla.org)
Oregon moves to limit dinotefuran use
Following the death of 50,000+ bees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro, Ore., this summer, the Oregon Department of Agriculture temporarily restricted the use of 18 pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran while it continues to investigate the massive kill. The temporary rule, which was initiated on June 27, will be in effect for 180 days.
Initial reports indicated that 25,000 to 50,000 bumblebees were found dead in the parking lot of a Target store after a landscape company had treated trees for aphids. Dinotefuran is the active ingredient in Safari, commonly used to control a wide range of pests, including adelgids, armored and soft scales, emerald ash borer, lacebugs, leaf beetles, leafhoppers, leafminers, psyllids, root weevils, sharpshooters, thrips and whiteflies, among others. It is in the neonicotinoid class of insecticides.
According to the ODA, "By adopting a temporary rule, ODA is taking action, in an abundance of caution, to avoid the potential of similar large bee kills this summer due to specific pesticide applications." The restriction focuses on ornamental, turf and agricultural pesticide products used by both professional applicators and homeowners; products containing dinotefuran that are registered for other uses, such as home ant and roach control or flea and tick control products for pets, are not affected.