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Minnesota Beekeepers Win a Round Against EPA on Insecticide Approval

In another win for bees everywhere, a group of Minnesota beekeepers have won a key battle with the EPA.

After a long, protracted lawsuit, a federal judge last week ruled in a group of Minnesota beekeepers’ favor, ruling that the EPA failed to appropriately consider the potential impact of neonicotinoids on insects, including bees, on the federal Endangered Species list.

“The EPA pretty much admitted that it had failed to do that in this case, so it was pretty hard for the judge to rule in their favor,” said Steve Ellis, a Minnesota beekeeper who was a plaintiff in the suit. Ellis, in particular, had been a very vocal critic of neonicotinoids. He’s also a member of Minnesota’s Governor’s Committee on Pollinator Protection.

Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that the EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.

The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Food Safety, other environmental groups and several beekeepers, challenged the EPA’s approval of several neonicotinoid products, a class of insecticides that are the most widely used in the world.

Steve Ellis looks at a dead bee hive in Minnesota. (Source: BRIAN PETERSON – STAR TRIBUNE FILE)

Even if honeybees are not yet on the Endangered Species list, colony collapse disorder is a growing problem – and the law applies to non-endangered animals if a clear case can be made.

“We are using the power of the Endangered Species Act to protect beekeepers as well,” said Peter Jenkins, the attorney for the Center for Food Safety.

One of the most common uses for neonicotinoids is to coat seeds for corn, soybeans, and other commodity crops widely planted in Minnesota and other Midwestern states. The compounds are absorbed by the plant as it grows, making it toxic to pests. But they have also been shown to be harmful to honeybees and other insects that feed on pollen or are exposed to it during planting time.

The manufacturers, such as Monsanto, claim there is no definitive link between neonicotinoids and colony collapse disorder, but several studies would suggest otherwise.

Further, the judge did agree that the EPA failed to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the impact of two neonicotinoids on endangered species. The wildlife service has recently cited exposure to neonicotinoids as a contributing factor in the perilous decline in some wild bees and butterflies. That includes the Rusty Patched Bumblebee, the first bee to be included on the list, which was once common in Minnesota and other Midwestern states.

A final resolution may yet take months if not years, but this is a huge step forward.

Thanks to the Star Tribune for the heads-up!

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Minnesota Beekeepers Win a Round Against EPA on Insecticide Approval Minnesota Beekeepers Win a Round Against EPA on Insecticide Approval Reviewed by matt on 00:45:00 Rating: 5