Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 28, 2015

Contact: Lori Ann Burd, (971) 717-6405,

EPA Proposes Ban on Some Toxic Pesticide Spraying While Bees at Work

WASHINGTON— The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule today creating temporary pesticide-free zones when specific plants are in bloom and commercial honeybees are being trucked in to pollinate large croplands. The rule will apply to nearly all insecticides, including neonicotinoids, but would only address pesticide-spraying on specific properties where bees have been brought in to work and fails to address the most significant routes of toxic pesticide exposure to bees.

“EPA is taking an important first step to protect commercial honeybees from toxic pesticide spraying,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a good start but there is much more to be done to protect our pollinators from the millions of pounds of insecticides used in this country every year.”

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides known to have both acute and chronic effects on honeybees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species, and are a major factor in overall pollinator declines. These systemic insecticides cause entire plants, including pollen and fruit, to become toxic to pollinators; the chemicals are also slow to break down, and therefore build up in the environment.

“More than 100 million U.S. acres are planted with seeds drenched in bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides,” said Burd. “Countless studies have linked these toxic seeds to declines in honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bee populations, and the EPA has found that they don’t even provide any benefits to farmers. To save America’s pollinators, the EPA needs to take the next step and immediately ban neonicotinoids, especially these poison seeds.”

Neonics are already banned in the European Union. In 2016 they will also be banned in national wildlife refuges in the United States due to their harmful impacts on wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.

Today’s announcement from the EPA comes just one day after the birthday of the late Rachel Carson, whose writing on pesticides first awakened the public to the need to protect the web of life.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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