EPA issues favorable preliminary decision on neonicotinoids

Studies confirm no unreasonable adverse effects on pollinator health.

January 31, 2020

2 Min Read
A bee approaches a clover plant. Iowa State scientists are studying if placing honeybee hives near prairie will help them kee
Photo courtesy of Amy Toth.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its preliminary interim decision (PID) on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics) that specifically addresses steps EPA is taking to protect pollinator health.

These chemicals -- including acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, collectively known as neonicotinoids -- are a group of insecticides used on a wide variety of crops, turf, ornamentals, pets (for flea treatment) and other residential and commercial indoor and outdoor uses. In the PID, EPA is proposing:

  • Management measures to help keep pesticides on the intended target and reduce the amount used on crops associated with potential ecological risks;

  • Requiring the use of additional personal protective equipment to address potential occupational risks;

  • Restrictions on when pesticides can be applied to blooming crops in order to limit exposure to bees;

  • Language on the label that advises homeowners not to use neonicotinoid products, and

  • Cancelling spray uses of imidacloprid on residential turf under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) due to health concerns.

Since 2015, EPA has included a pollinator risk assessment as part of its rigorous pesticide registration review process as well as for new pesticide registrations. CropLife America said in a statement it supports this process. “Once we have reviewed the full PID, we look forward to a robust public comment period,” CropLife said.

Related:Certain neonicotinoids may benefit bumblebees

The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) thanked EPA for following the science demonstrating the safety of glyphosate and neonicotinoids. Upon publication in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comments on the decisions in the following dockets for 60 days.

“Safety is a priority for all corn growers,” NCGA said in a statement. All products in use today have been tested by EPA, many of which have been used for decades with no findings of harmful effects to human health or the environment when used properly. Each product is thoroughly reviewed by the EPA every 15 years to ensure continued safety and account for any new information or data.

“The availability of safe products is critically important and allows farmers to continually improve the sustainability of their operations while supplying a safe, secure supply of food for a growing population,” NCGA said.

Farmers depend on and protect bees and other pollinators, which are essential for their crops. Many farmers are beekeepers themselves and go to great lengths to provide habitat and forage for bee colonies, such as planting wildflowers around their cropland. As farmers grow and protect their crops, neonicotinoids are a protective and effective tool to prepare seeds for healthy growth, CropLife explained.

Related:EPA again confirms safety of glyphosate

In urban and suburban settings, professionals and consumers rely on neonics to protect homes, control bed bugs and manage destructive invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer.

Studies performed around the world demonstrate that neonicotinoids are effective in controlling harmful insects in agricultural and non-agricultural settings, with no unreasonable adverse effects on pollinator health when used according to label instructions.

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