Groups Challenge Proposed EPA Approval Of Dangerous New Pesticide

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Bobolinks
Bobolinks
- photo by Kent Mason, USFWS

Eight national non-profit organizations concerned with the environment, food safety, children’s health, bee and bird conservation, and pesticide management, sent two letters calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to halt the approval process for a new insecticide called Sulfoxaflor that would be used on various vegetables, fruits, soybeans, wheat and turfgrass. The letters were sent to EPA on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“The combination of water solubility, persistence, and toxicity (especially to bees and pollinators) is particularly concerning because compounds with these same characteristics have shown adverse effects to non-target species,” said the letter from the Center for Food Safety, the Pesticide Action Network, American Bird Conservancy and Friends of the Earth.

The two letters were sent to EPA in response to the agency’s January 14 proposed “conditional registration” of the new insecticide. Sulfoxaflor is characterized by its long environmental persistence (over a year in some conditions) and by its high potential for surface and ground water contamination. The groups cited Sulfoxaflor’s toxicity to honey bees and to saltwater invertebrates, as well as concerns with respect to birds and other organisms.

In addition, the groups pointed to studies linking Sulfoxaflor to developmental abnormalities in rodents and to benign and malignant tumors. Those tests and other evidence led the groups to assert that Sulfoxaflor’s potential mammalian and human toxicity has not been adequately evaluated. EPA has stated that “Sulfoxaflor exposure through drinking water alone has the potential to be a relevant acute or chronic exposure route of concern for mammals or birds."

The groups are particularly worried about the effects on pollinators. Sulfoxaflor’s mode of action and toxicity present risks comparable to those exhibited by the neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that are lethal to bees, birds, and aquatic organisms.

Over the past decade, honey bee colonies nationwide have suffered record losses of 30 percent to upwards of 90 percent in worst case scenarios. Pesticides have been identified as a primary contributing factor. The groups are astounded that the EPA finds it appropriate at this time to register yet another chemical that is “very highly toxic” to honey bees, especially given the incomplete studies and the lack of real-world data on Sulfoxaflor. The neonicotinoid pesticides have had extremely detrimental effects on honey bee populations, and approving Sulfoxaflor without more information about pollinator toxicity will likely compound these problems.

“Sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to honey bees according to EPA’s ecological assessment, and there are still unanswered toxicological data gaps regarding honey bees...Given the global phenomenon of bee decline and the recent precautions taken in the European Union regarding bee health with the suspension of certain neonicotinoid pesticides known to elicit adverse reactions in bees, it is irresponsible that the [EPA] would allow yet another chemical with a high potential to be hazardous to bee health into the environment,” said the second letter, signed by the groups Beyond Pesticides, American Beekeeping Federation, American Bird Conservancy, Boulder Innovative Technologies and the California Minnesota Honey Farms.

One letter points out that Sulfoxaflor induces high mortality among honey bees from zero to three days after it has been applied and that on average, the mortality rate was as high as 7-20 times that of a control group of bees not exposed. Also significant, in five of the six studies submitted, the amount of pesticide applied was only 3-67 percent of the maximum label rate that would be allowed following approval. The groups note the complete lack of testing of the pesticide anywhere near the maximum levels that would be allowed.

Of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. The value of crops pollinated by bees in the U.S. alone was estimated at $19.2 billion in 2010 – that figure has since grown.

Commercial beekeeping adds between $15 and $20 billion in economic value to agriculture each year. A petition requesting EPA to suspend the neonicotinoid, clothianidin (a pesticide with many similarities to Sulfoxaflor), was submitted to the agency in 2012 and was supported by over one million signatures. 


"Tennessee Uncharted" Receives ACI Award As Nation's Top Outdoor Television Series

“Tennessee Uncharted” the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s television program, has been named as the best outdoors television series in the country by the Association for Conservation Information, Inc. (ACI). “Tennessee Uncharted” made its debut in October, 2014. TWRA partners with Knoxville-based Designsensory and production company PopFizz to bring the weekly program to ... (click for more)

New TWRA Bird Conservation Coordinator To Present August Nature At Noontime Program

David Hanni, recently-appointed Bird Conservation coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will present the August Nature at Noontime program. The program will be held on Thursday, Aug. 6, from noon-1 p.m. at the TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building located in the Ellington Agriculture Complex. Mr. Hanni joined the TWRA from Colorado where he had served as the ... (click for more)

Truck Driver Who Caused Wreck That Killed 6 People At Ooltewah Indicted On 13 Charges; Report Says He Drove Excessive Hours

The Chattanooga Police Department has issued a capias for the arrest of Benjamin Brewer, 39, concerning the multiple fatality traffic crash that occurred on I-75 northbound on June 25. Brewer was indicted on Monday on 13 counts.  They include six counts of vehicular homicide by impairment, a B-felony; four counts for reckless aggravated assault, a D-felony; one count for DUI ... (click for more)

Rawls Says Schools Could Have Better Spent $16,000 Than For Motivational Speech; County To Explore Performance Guaranteed Utility Contract

Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls said three school systems could have better spent $16,000 than for a motivational speaker to fire teachers up at the start of a new school year. He said the payment to Ron Clark, former National Teacher of the Year and the founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, could have gone for school supplies and other needs. Bradley County ... (click for more)

Why Is The City Diverting Federal Transportation Funds From Real Need?

The city of Chattanooga and CBL, owner of Hamilton Place Mall, would have the mass of taxpayers believe that improving mall access from the interstate is not impacting us financially.   Namely, CBL has committed to fund the city’s match of $8 million, so they will receive $32 million in Federal Transportation Funds that are allocated annually to local jurisdictions through ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Hero Is Coming Home

In late September, a very special funeral will be held in Bearden, Tenn., when 1 st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr., will finally come home to lie in peace with his family. Sandy’s been dead for 72 years now, ever since he was killed in combat on the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands on Nov. 22, 1943. He and a number of other Marine heroes were buried back then in a shallow ... (click for more)