A year ago, a coalition of environmental groups and beekeepers petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect bees from harmful pesticides. Today four beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA in Federal District Court. The lawsuit charges the agency with failing to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides. According to a March 21 press release (PDF) from the Center for Food Safety, the center's attorneys will represent the coalition.
The suit asks that some pesticides have their registrations suspended. Those pesticides are known to cause three problems: They are highly toxic to honeybees, are clear causes of major bee kills and/or contribute to mass mortality cases known as colony collapse disorder. The lawsuit also cited an EPA policy of allowing "conditional registrations" and ignoring labeling deficiencies.
At issue is a newer class of systemic insecticides that are absorbed by plants and transported throughout the plant’s vascular tissue. The insecticides turn the plant into potentially toxic threats to insects, but does not discriminate in favor of bees.
Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam are the two most threatening systemic insecticides that came into wide use in the 2000s. This is when beekeepers started having widespread colony collapse cases. Beekeepers were unable to get restitution for their losses. Center for Food Safety Attorney, Peter T. Jenkins said,
"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. EPA’s unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved.”
The coalition of plaintiffs include four beekeepers, Steve Ellis of Old Mill Honey Co. (MN, CA), Jim Doan of Doan Family Farms (NY), Tom Theobald of Niwot Honey Farm (CO) and Bill Rhodes of Bill Rhodes Honey (FL) as well as Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Sierra Club, and the Center for Environmental Health
A December 11, 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service title "Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides" (PDF) describes the importance of bees to agriculture and addresses ongoing concerns about declining bee populations.