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This week, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) led a regulatory filing with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of 65 nonprofit groups. The brief proposes major reforms in how the agency regulates systemic insecticides. It focuses in particular on neonicotinoids (neonics), systemic pesticides often applied as agricultural seed coatings that have caused excessive honey bee deaths, native bee declines, and bird mortalities since their introduction 15 years ago. is over 20 years old.
The groups are pushing the EPA to reject a 1984 regulatory waiver that allows companies to register pesticides without first submitting data on costs versus benefits of application. Instead, the Reagan-era EPA waiver simply stated, “Rather than requiring efficacy data, the Agency presumes that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
The petition documents how the EPA’s 1984 presumption and subsequent failure to require efficacy data led to significant environmental harm, including the overproduction of thousands of tons of surplus neonicotinoid coated seeds that did not have never been planted and have contaminated the environment.
“We have overwhelming evidence that neonicotinoids are devastating to birds like Eastern Bluebirds and insects. A seed coated in a neonic can kill a songbird, not to mention millions of birds affected by the loss of beneficial invertebrates due to neonic pollution,” said Hardy Kern, government relations director for the Pesticides Campaign. and Birds by ABC. “Despite this evidence that neonics are deadly, there is no requirement for chemical manufacturers to show that their products work as intended.”
Expert study after expert study, including by EPA economists, shows that in most situations the use of neonicotinoid coated seeds is not necessary. In some contexts, the use of seeds actually reduces crop yields. Yet neonicotinoids on seeds are the most widespread pesticide application in the United States, affecting an estimated 100 million acres in a typical year.
“While the EPA should hold all pesticides at a higher level, for neonicotinoids we have plenty of published evidence about their lack of efficacy, prophylactic overuse, and the environmental harm they cause,” Peter said. Jenkins, lead counsel for PEER. “The threat they pose to the long-term integrity of the ecosystem is particularly insidious.”
In addition to ABC and PEER, the list of prominent petitioners includes: Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Endangered Species Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pollinator Stewardship Council, and the Sierra Club.
The full petition is available here.
Previous neonics coverage:
EPA: Neonicotinoids Harm Vast Majority of All Threatened Species
Decline of grassland birds linked to neonicotinoids
Toxic insecticides for seed-eating songbirds
Study shows neonicotinoids threaten survival of wild birds