EPA to restrict enhanced pesticide use

Reuters reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has stated it was unlikely to approve new or expanded use of some pesticides due to the potential risks they pose to honeybees. This is being done in response to claims that neonicotinoid pesticides are causing bee deaths and their colonies to collapse which, in turn, affects the ecosphere. However, this claim does not shore up with the facts.

A recent study conducted by University of Maryland scientists and published in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that neonic pesticides are not the sole cause of bee colony collapse. Click Green reveals that researchers observed the effects of imidacloprid (a strain of neonicotinoids) on bee colonies over a three year period. The times when bee colony collapse occurred was when the dosage of insecticide used was four and even twenty times more than recommended levels.

While the manuscript does not entirely absolve pesticides from having an effect on bee populations, it does point out pesticides and insecticides are factors but not the sole cause. The study states that other considerations that contribute to bee colony demise include parasites, disease, climate stress and malnutrition. The research was headed by Dr. Galen Dively emeritus professor of entomology at University of Maryland and Click Green went on to report:

For the study, Dively and his colleagues fed pollen dosed with imidacloprid to honey bee colonies. The team purposely constructed a worst-case scenario, even at lower exposure levels. For example, they fed the colonies tainted food for up to 12 continuous weeks. This is a much longer exposure than bee colonies would experience in real-world scenarios, because most crops do not bloom for such an extended period of time.

In a way it is not surprising that the EPA decided to restrict use of pesticides, however, as the UM study points out, neonic pesticides are not the sole cause of honeybee demise. Like with many other issues with bureaucracies like the EPA it is not necessarily science but propaganda or politically-motivated news that wins the day. Hopefully, down the line, the EPA can be convinced to change its mind. Until then, the agency relegates itself to the realm of politicization.

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