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. 



"The Bend Beneath Lookout Mountain" Hike And Program Set For March 2

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will provide a program at the 18th Ohio Battery positions on Moccasin Bend delving into the artillery battery’s role during the Battle of Lookout Mountain, on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m.  This 1.5 mile hike and program will last approximately 90 minutes. Parking will be located near 202 Moccasin Bend Road and “Special ... (click for more)

Getting Back To Our Roots

When you think about TVA, you think about a lot of things: electricity, economic development, flood control, hydropower, dams, navigation, water quality and much more. But did you know that planting trees to improve both the land and water resources in the Valley was a big part of TVA’s primary mission from the beginning? Listed as priority number two on in the TVA Act of 1933, ... (click for more)

Police Call Incident At Hamilton Place Mall "Aggravated Riot"; One Juvenile Injured During Stampede

Chattanooga Police are terming an incident at Hamilton Place Mall on Saturday night an "aggravated riot."   Police said there has been no confirmation that any shots were fired, but there was a stampede out of the mall after word spread of a gun incident.   One juvenile was injured and taken to the hospital during the panic and scramble from the mall.   ... (click for more)

Navy Veteran From Hixson Who Was Attacked By Fellow Inmate At McMinn County Jail Dies

A Hixson man who went on life support after a vicious attack by a fellow inmate at the McMinn County Jail in Athens, Tn., has died. Family friends said 48-year-old Tim Cook, a Navy veteran, died Saturday after he was kicked repeatedly in the head a week earlier. He had been arrested in Athens on a driving while intoxicated charge. Sheriff Joe Guy told the Athens Post ... (click for more)

The Logic of Hysteria: A Hometown Look from A Thousand Miles Away

There was a shooting recently in my hometown, in the parking lot of the mall. It made the national news and I was reading the user comments on the story. Someone was giving their experience about how they heard some rounds fired near the Sears. The next comment was, “They still have a Sears?”   So what the heck happened? The police say there was never an active shooter, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why CNN Is Gonna Croak

I believe CNN (Cable News Network) has become one of the most disappointing news sources America has ever known in the last five years. The bastions of sound journalism no longer exist as the once-great organization has gone the way of liberal loathing. Its new basis-of-fact cannot be trusted and the overwhelming bias against conservatives in our nation is as morbid as it is frightening. ... (click for more)