11:47 pm - Tuesday September 19, 2017

Lawsuit Claims the EPA is Failing to Protect Bees from Pesticides

Colorado Beekeeper is Among Plaintiffs

Stephanie Carroll Carson

NIWOT, Colo. – A lawsuit has been filed against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it isn’t doing enough to protect the nation’s declining bee population. The suit was brought by a coalition of beekeepers and environmental groups, including the Pesticide Action Network.

Spokesman Paul Towers charged that the EPA has failed by allowing bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely-used agricultural products, for years.

“EPA has acted as a rubber stamp for these neonicotinoid products. They’ve rushed the products to market and even when they’re on the market, they’ve failed to provide the right protections on these pesticide labels,” Towers declared. “So, EPA has really shirked its responsibility.”

Research points to a combination of factors likely to blame for honeybees disappearing, including pesticides and bacterial infections. U.S. beekeepers have been losing about a third of their bees annually, and in 2012, many reported record losses of 40 to 50 percent.

Tom Theobald has been a beekeeper in Boulder County for 38 years. A plaintiff in the suit, he owns Niwot Honey Farms and says in recent years his honey output has been drastically reduced.

“It’s been devastating. I’m practically out of business,” he said. “My honey crop this past year was less than 10 percent of what would have been considered a normal honey crop just a few years ago.”

Theobald pointed out that the health of the honey-bee population is an indicator for the overall health of the rest of the ecosystem.

With the filing of the suit, said Paul Towers, they hope to force the EPA to meet its obligation to review the pesticide products more rigorously.

“And in the interim, it should impose restrictions on the use of these pesticides that are toxic to bees,” he said. “Those are the clear and easy steps that the agency can take to ensure the success of bees, of pollination, and to support our food system.”

It is the EPA’s policy to not comment on pending litigation.

The suit was filed in the Northern District Court of California.

More information may be found at bit.ly/10n7FZI.

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