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Wednesday, September 3, 2014
One Buzzy Summer: NPMA Recaps Recent Pollinator Protection Efforts 9-3-14
from NPMA enewsletter
ONE BUZZY SUMMER
The debate over the connection between pesticide use &
the decline in bee health reached a dizzying pace this summer
The alleged role of neonicotinoid
pesticides in widespread bee die offs over the last several years
catapulted to the public policy forefront last summer, thanks largely
to an Oregon landscaper's application of a dinotefuran product at a
shopping center parking lot that resulted in the deaths of 50,000
Shortly after the late June bee
kill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced in
mid-August that it would add language to the labels of some
neonicotinoid pesticide products prohibiting use of the products
where bees are present. Specifically, the changes applied to all
products with outdoor non-agricultural foliar use directions
(except granulars) containing the active ingredients imidacloprid,
dinotefuran, clothianidin or thiamethoxam regardless of formulation,
concentration, or intended user.
Public policy activity related to
the possible connection between neonicotinoids and other pesticides and
the decline in bee health intensified this summer as a flurry of
significant action took place at the federal, state and local levels of
government. Below is a recap of the most notable developments of
the last 10 weeks.
Obama's Memo on Pollinators
President Barack Obama capped off
National Pollinator Week in late June by issuing a Presidential Memorandum expanding
Federal efforts to reverse pollinator losses and helps restore
populations to healthy levels. The Memorandum establishes a Pollinator
Health Task Force chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the
Administrator of U.S. EPA and charged with developing a National
Pollinator Health Strategy within six months that includes an Action
Course on PR Notice
Late last year, EPA indicated that
it would issue a draft Pesticide Registration Notice sometime in 2014
proposing to add language similar to the pollinator protection wording
it added to some neonicotinoid labels to all pesticide products.
The issuance of this document was expected to be the most significant
summertime policy action related to pesticides and bee
health. It appears, however, that those plans have been
Instead, EPA is placing greater
emphasis on state pollinator protection plans. While nothing has
been finalized and the issue appears very fluid, U.S. EPA did write
state regulatory officials in mid-August to express an interest in
working together to develop state pollinator protection plans.
The plans are a key byproduct of the Presidential Memo. NPMA has
requested to be part of any group charged with developing a model state
pollinator protection plan or establishing minimum standards for such
U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service Phase Out Neonicotinoid Use at Wildlife Refuges
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
announced in mid-July that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides at
national wildlife refuges would be phased out by January 2016.
According to a July 17 memo from the
Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the decision was
"based on a precautionary approach to our wildlife management
practices, and not on agricultural practices." The memo also
states "That there can be appropriate and specialized uses of
neonicotinoid pesticides and decisions for the uses in the Service are
subject to review through all applicable laws, regulations, and
policies including, but not limited to, the National Environmental
EPA to Commence Special Review for Neonicotinoid Pesticides
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in early-July petitioned U.S. EPA
to request that the Agency commence a Special Review for six specific
neonicotinoid pesticides - dinotefuran, acetamiprid, clothianidin,
thiacloprid, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam - based on the risk that
NRDC believes this class of pesticides poses to honey bees and native
bees. The request effectively seeks to expedite EPA's ongoing
evaluation of neonicotinoid insecticides. Read the petition.
Also in early July, the Center for
Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network North
America, filed a state lawsuit against
the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), alleging that
DPR violated the law by approving expanded use of neonicotinoid
pesticides. The suit seeks to prohibit DPR from approving any new
neonicotinoid products or new uses of those products until it completes
required reevaluations of the pesticides.
Circulate Neonicotinoid Letter
In mid-August, Congressmen Earl
Blumenauer of Oregon and John Conyers of Michigan circulated to fellow
House colleagues a letter they had
drafted to send to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, in hopes of
getting other Members to sign on. The letter, which will likely
be sent later this month, makes numerous recommendations, including
that EPA restrict the use of neonicotinoids on bee attractive
crops and ornamental applications, limit the times, methods of
application, and locations of neonicotinoid use and, in instances where
bees and other pollinators cannot be fully protected, suspend the use
of neonicotinoid products. The letter also urges EPA to
reclassify commercial neonicotinoid products as restricted use.
The California Legislature in late
August passed and sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his consideration legislation directing
DPR to complete its reevaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides by July 1,
2018 and to adopt any control measures needed to protect pollinator
health within two years of completing the reassessment. The
measure essentially synchronizes California's reexamination of
neonicotinoids with when U.S. EPA's anticipates concluding its
registration review of the chemistry.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of
Agriculture in late June adopted emergency rulemaking prohibiting
the use of products containing dinotefuran and imidacloprid to treat
linden trees and other Tilia species trees. The measure,
which will remain in effect until December 23, 2014, was adopted in
response to several reports of bee kills involving the use of the
aforementioned products. State officials and researchers are
investigating the incidents and whether there may be some sort of
synergistic effect between Tilia species trees and the two products.
In November of 2013, ODA decided to
require as a condition of 2014 state registration that a label
statement prohibiting use on Tilia species trees would be required, for
certain products containing dinotefuran or imidacloprid.
The emergency rule also covers older stocks of products that do
not contain the new label restrictions.
In late June, the Spokane City
Council voted 5-2
prohibiting the city from purchasing neonicotinoid pesticides or using
the compounds on city property.
In late July, the Shorewood (MN)
City Council approved a resolution banning
the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on city property.
Pollinator Protection Training
As the activity described above
well illustrates, the role neonicotinoids and other pesticides play in
the decline in bee health is a hot button issue, often driven by
emotion and well-funded activist groups. Nevertheless, it is important
that PMPs and their technicians closely follow label directions and
take steps to avoid inadvertently exposing honey bees to pesticides.
To that end, NPMA will soon unveil pollinator
protection training as part of NPMA Online Learning
Center. Training objectives include, enhanced awareness about
pollinator health, neonicotinoid label changes and common sense
techniques on how to avoid exposing beneficial pollinators to
insecticides while performing exterior treatments. In addition, the
training contains a section on how to identify beneficial pollinators
while acknowledging the fact that PMPs are sometimes called on to
control pollinators when they become a threat to public health.
In August, NPMA launched PollinatorHealth.org,
a web site designed to serve as a comprehensive resource for consumers,
media, educators and pest control professionals to better understand
pollinator health, the issues that threaten pollinators and the
importance of protecting them.