The U.S. Environmental Protection agency is going to consider the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam to be sprayed on crops all over the United States.
If approved, the pesticide would be sprayed on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice, and potato.
Thiamethoxam is already a widely used seed coating, but this proposal calls for the pesticide to be sprayed directly onto the crops.
Although the EPA’s newest assessments of risks did not include spraying the pesticides directly on the crops, in January the EPA released a preliminary assessment of on-field exposures to thiamethoxam that found all uses of the pesticide (on foliar, soil and seeds) resulted in exposures that exceed the level for acute and chronic risk to adult bees.
Not only can neonicotinoids pose a risk to bees, new EPA assessments show that they can also kill and harm birds of all sizes, and pose a risk to aquatic invertebrates.
What’s worse, the EPA was presented with the proposal by agrochemical giant Syngenta on the same day the agency released their findings on the extensive dangers posed by neonicotinoids, including thiamethoxam.
According to Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program:
“If the EPA grants Syngenta’s wish, it will spur catastrophic declines of aquatic invertebrates and pollinator populations that are already in serious trouble. You know the pesticide-approval process is broken when the EPA announces it will consider expanding the use of this dangerous pesticide on the same day its own scientists reveal that the chemical kills birds and aquatic invertebrates.”
So why isn’t the EPA considering restricting these products instead of expanding their use?
As Burd says:
“For years the EPA and pesticide companies bragged that by using treated seeds they were avoiding spraying insecticides, and despite the science showing that these treated seeds were deadly to birds, claimed that they were environmentally beneficial. But we can expect the Trump EPA to now ignore the risks to birds and bees and approve these ultra-toxic pesticides to be sprayed across hundreds of millions of U.S. acres.”
Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides that have been a major factor in overall pollinator decline. The pesticide causes plants, including their pollen and fruit, to become toxic to pollinators. They can also be slow to break down, thus building up in the environment.