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Court Overturns Pesticide Approval, EPA's Commitment to Bees in Question

Sep 15, 2015 03:06 AM EDT
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On Thursday, a federal appeals court overturned the EPA's decision to approve marketing of sulfoxaflor, a pesticide that acts like the same neonicotinoids class associated with bee declines.

"In this case, given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA's registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it," Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder wrote, defending her Sep. 10 verdict.

Come press time, the EPA had litte to tell Nature World News.

"We are reviewing the opinion in consultation with the Department of Justice to determine our next steps," a representative told us. "The Court's decision won't take effect until it issues its mandate, which will not happen for at least 45 days."

[Wondering about the EPA's commitment to pollinator protection? Check out our special report!]

According to the Associated Press (AP), Schroeder based her decision on the fact that initial studies of sulfoxaflor, a product of agrichemical giant Dow AgroSciences, showed that the product may be highly toxic to domestic bees. This revelation resulted in a demand within the EPA to conduct further and extensive testing - a demand that Schroeder says was inadequately met before the pesticide's 2013 approval. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Day Donaldson)

As a result, worried beekeeper organizations across the US, along with the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, pooled their resources to sue the EPA in a bid to have the pesticide's approval revoked. The appeals court decision was in favor of these groups.

"I am inclined to believe the EPA... decided to register sulfoxaflor unconditionally in response to public pressure for the product and attempted to support its decision retroactively with studies it had previously found inadequate," Circuit Judge N.R. Smith added in an addendum to the court's main opinion.

"Dow AgroSciences respectfully disagrees with the Ninth Circuit's conclusion that EPA's registration of products containing sulfoxaflor should be vacated," representative Gary Hamlin said in a breif response. "Dow AgroSciences will work with EPA to implement the order and to promptly complete additional regulatory work to support the registration of the products."

The company is also reportedly looking into options for challenging the court's decision.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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