Beekeepers in the United States have begun to organize against a recent decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to allow a dangerous insecticide back on the market. The beekeepers have filed a lawsuit against the government agency for its inaction on the powerful insecticide, “sulfoxaflor.” The lawsuit cites information and statistics about the health risks to humans, animals, and insects.
The beekeepers are being represented by Earthjustice, a legal group that works on cases involving the environment. Greg Loarie, one of the attorneys with Earthjustice, says that a restriction on sulfoxaflor was removed by the Trump administration, despite scientific evidence proving how dangerous it is.
“Honeybees and other pollinators are dying in droves because of insecticides like sulfoxaflor, yet the Trump administration removes restriction just to please the chemical industry. This is illegal and an affront to our food system, economy, and environment,” Loarie said.
However, the companies behind many of the controversial pesticides on the market have also sponsored their own studies, which showed that the substances were safe. Many beekeepers question the validity of these studies, and have urged the government to look for independent studies on these matters, instead of relying entirely on corporate-funded research to make their decisions.
Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, one of the many plaintiffs in the lawsuit, says that the EPA used these potentially unreliable studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back on the market.
“It is inappropriate for EPA to solely rely on industry studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back into our farm fields. Die-offs of tens of thousands of bee colonies continue to occur and sulfoxaflor plays a huge role in this problem. EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation’s food system,” she said.
An initial approval of the chemical was overturned by the EPA in 2013, as the result of a previous lawsuit filed by Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Beekeeper Federation, and Earthjustice.
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However, the agrochemical chemical Corteva, who makes the pesticide, has continued to lobby for its approval. Just three years later, in 2016, the chemical was re-approved with certain restrictions, then in July of this year, the Trump administration entirely removed the restrictions on sulfoxaflor.
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