Bayer pesticide banned over threat to honeybees

Monday, February 22, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: pesticides, honeybees, health news

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(NaturalNews) A U.S. District Judge from Manhattan has banned the sale of spirotetramat, a pesticide produced by Bayer CropScience. Citing allegations by environmental groups and commercial beekeepers that the pesticide is toxic and is killing off the nation's honeybee population, Judge Denise Cote has declared that sales of spirotetramat must cease after January 15.

According to Cote, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not follow proper procedure when approving spirotetramat. The EPA did not take public comment about the pesticide before approving it and the agency failed to publish both the Bayer application and the approval documents in the Federal Register. The EPA and Bayer CropScience have 60 days to appeal the decision.

According to Bayer CropScience, spirotetramat is perfectly safe and does not harm honeybees, insisting that the pesticide has been extensively tested. The company laments the fact that the chemical was banned because of procedural faults but did not indicate how it would proceed.

According to Aaron Colangelo, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), spirotetramat is a potentially hazardous insecticide that should be pulled from the market and evaluated further. The NRDC in conjunction with the Xerces Society, a wildlife conservation group based in Portland, jointly sued the EPA over its approval of the pesticide.

Amazingly, the EPA admits that it approved spirotetramat illegally but has argued that its actions should have no consequences. This speaks volumes to the agency's arrogance in how it views its role as a regulatory agency.

Dave Hackenberg, one of Pennsylvania's largest beekeepers, is appreciative of the judge's decision. After all, he has been losing more than half of his bees every winter due to what he believes are pesticides. He leases his bees out to various growers every year to assist in pollination but he says that each year, more and more bees are dying. This past year, he lost about half of his bees by midwinter which was the largest amount to date.

Maryann Frazier, a researcher from Penn State University, agrees with the notion that pesticides play a large role in what is now being termed "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD), the massive die-off of bees with no clear explanation as to why they died. She believes that a number of factors contribute to CCD and that further research must be done.

Bees are a necessary insect that must be preserved. Without them, there would be no food. According to the Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate over $15 billion worth of U.S. crops.

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