Beekeepers were awarded a huge victory last week when the EPA effectively banned a dozen pesticides believed to be harmful to honeybees. The cancellations went into effect on May 20 for the dozen pesticides being produced by Bayer, Syngenta, and Valent.
The measure was actually part of an agreement that has been reached last December with manufacturers. The dozen pesticides were part of a group of 59 products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They were developed as a substitute for organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, which are known to attack the nervous system of the insects.
This particular group of pesticides had been targeted because they are in the neonicotinoid family of pesticides. In other words, these pesticides basically turn the entire plant into a toxic substance for the bugs. If they are to consume any part of it, they fall victim to the pesticide.
George Kimbrell, who is the legal director at the Center for Food Safety, stated, “Today’s cancellation of those neonicotinoid pesticides is a hard-won battle and landmark step in the right direction.” This is expected to help the case for beekeepers, while farmers may not exactly be happy about the decision. Of the dozen pesticides canceled, more than half were used as seed coating products by farmers.
Even with the restrictions, farmers still celebrated a small victory in that they still have some neonicotinoid products available to them. Farmers consider this specific class of pesticide to be vital to protecting their crops.
While farmers have them available, at least for now, Kimbrell is trying to rectify that situation as well. He stated, “This entire class of active ingredient soon will be up for re-registration [under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act] by 2022. These first 12 were just an interim step.”
For manufacturers, the writing appears to be on the wall and they will have to soon find alternatives that will not harm bees and other insects deemed vital to the agricultural world. The European Union, as of April 2018, banned the use of neonic pesticides for nearly all outdoor uses.
This is a battle that will surely continue, as beekeepers continue to stress the importance of honeybees to the agricultural world as well as dealing with heightened theft and of course, colony collapse disorder, of which these pesticides are considered a huge factor. Until then, beekeepers will have to be happy with victories such as this. Win the battles one by one until this war is officially over.