A coalition of food safety and environmental groups delivered 219,210 public comments to EPA today, urging the agency ban neonicotinoid pesticides — a leading cause of pollinator decline. The agency closes its comment period the day before Earth Day for its preliminary ecological and human health risk assessments for the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran, and a preliminary ecological risk assessment for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid.
Populations of bees and other critical pollinators have been declining rapidly. Thousands of scientific studies implicate neonicotinoid pesticides, also known as neonics, as a key contributor. EPA’s own assessments find that neonics pose far-reaching risks to birds and aquatic invertebrates. Recent studies find neonics are pervasive in U.S. waterways, including the Great Lakes.
On Wednesday, the 2018 Farm Bill, which passed the House Committee on Agriculture, includes dozens of attacks on environmental safeguards including exempting the use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids from the Endangered Species Act, which will harm already dwindling populations of bees and other critical pollinators.
Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Action, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and U.S. PIRG are delivering over 219,000 comments signed by people across the country urging the agency to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
More than 4.4 million Avaaz members have called for a ban on neonics and for future regulatory efforts to be guided by precaution.
“People from around the country have made it clear: the EPA must act now to save our pollinators. No matter what Scott Pruitt’s industry friends say, this is a problem we can’t ignore. The health of our food system depends on it,” said U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer.
“In light of EPA’s own analysis, the agency has a responsibility to protect birds, bees, and aquatic ecosystems from neonicotinoid pesticides. Failure to do so could potentially have devastating trophic effects on the environment. The results of these assessments warrant an urgent federal response to curb increasing use of these chemicals,” said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director, Beyond Pesticides.
“Scott Pruitt has silenced EPA's scientists and handed the agency to the pesticide industry,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “EPA must listen to its own scientists and take immediate action to protect pollinators, people and the planet from these toxic pesticides.”
“Federal officials know that neonic pesticides are causing catastrophic harm to bees as well as risking the extinction of dozens of endangered species,” said George Kimbrell, Legal Director at Center for Food Safety. “The vast majority of their use, as prophylactic seed coatings, are not necessary for pest control for farms, and instead simply contaminating our native environments. The failure to ban these pesticides, as Europe has largely done without any impacts to their farmers, is irresponsible and unlawful.”
"Neonics hurt birds, aquatic wildlife and bees. Given the facts at hand about the harm neonics cause, EPA should move quickly to ban these dangerous pesticides. We don't have time to wait," said Christy Leavitt, senior campaign director at Environment America.
"We are asking the EPA to demonstrate the environmental stewardship necessary to protect pollinators, which help produce one-third of global food crops. Hundreds of studies have shown neonics to be harmful to wild and managed bees, and butterflies, and associated with the decline in bird populations,” said Nomi Carmona, national online organizer for pollinators at Sierra Club. “Our pollinators have enough environmental stressors and we need them to sustain a healthy food supply. Curbing the use of bird and bee-killing pesticides should be a national priority."
“Scientists blame these insecticides for killing bees and endangered butterflies, poisoning our waterways, even crippling migratory songbirds,” said Avaaz senior campaigner Nick Kimbrell. “Europe is gearing up for a major ban on neonics next week. It’s past time for the EPA to act.”
“At a time when our pollinators are dying at alarming rates, the EPA should be taking steps to protect our bees from toxic neonic pesticides, not putting them at greater risk,” said League of Conservation Voters Legislative Representative Madeleine Foote. “These bee-killing neonic pesticides pose a threat to birds and aquatic species and risk the health of farm workers and our communities. That is why over 43,000 LCV members have taken action to stop Scott Pruitt’s EPA from recklessly expanding the use of these dangerous pesticides.”