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EPA Favors 'Bee-Toxic Pesticides' Over Future of Food, Groups Charge

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Honey Bee Health page.

Arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed in its obligation to protect the nation's bee population-one of the Earth's most vital pollinators-from dangerous pesticides, a group of beekeepers and environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court saying the EPA's inaction is causing great harm to biodiversity and the future of food in the U.S.

The suit filed by the coalition aims to compel the EPA to suspend the licensing of insecticides that have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees and that act as "significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality" of bees known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).

"Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production. It's time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy," said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper.

The groups involved, which have long been fighting on behalf of the bees, say that the EPA has ignored their efforts, including a petition which urged the agency to take swift action against two insecticides classified as neonicotinoids filed over one year ago.

"Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees.  The agency has refused, so we've been compelled to sue," said attorney Peter T. Jenkins of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), which is representing the coalition in the suit.  "EPA's unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved."

While the EPA has failed to ban these highly toxic pesticides outright, they have also, according to CFS, failed to properly regulate them.

Those failures include improper labeling of toxic substances, "lax enforcement" for pesticide usage, and the continued practice of allowing companies to exploit regulatory loopholes-often in the form of a process called "conditional registrations."