Bayer Changes Stance on EPA Bee Report

14.01.2016 -

After slamming the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for overestimating the impact of neonicotinoid-based (neonic) pesticides on bee populations in the first of its proposed four reports on the subject, Bayer CropScience has changed its stance, now calling the report “scientifically sound.”

While in its initial reaction the agrochemicals arm of the German group said EPA had “ignored the important benefits these products provide and management practices to protect bees,” in the meantime it has decided to take a proactive approach and make proposals for additional measures to protect bees.

In a first assessment published last week, the US environmental watchdog said it had concluded that imidacloprid – one of the chemicals most commonly used in neonics, the world’s most commonly used pesticides – can harm honeybee populations when used on certain crops, such as citrus and cotton, and in concentrations of 25 parts per billion or above.

EPA said its conclusions were drawn from tests it had required Bayer, one of the most important producers of the pesticide active ingredient, to perform on its behalf.

In reassessing its position, the chemical company told the British newspaper The Guardian “there are many ways farmers can use these neonics on cotton and citrus crops in ways that reduce risk to honeybee colonies. In fact, there are many restrictions in place that already do this, and Bayer has proposed several more to EPA to consider that would put in place additional protections for bees.”

It did not comment on which protections it had proposed.

The environment agency, under some pressure from environmental advocates who would like to see the US implement a moratorium such as that in place in the EU since late 2013, is still reviewing the impact of three other neonicotinoids – clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran – on bees as well as the impact of imidacloprid on species other than bees. Results are expected by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, environmental organizations in conjunction with groups representing beekeepers and farmers have filed a lawsuit against EPA, alleging it allowed seeds coated in neonicotinoids to be planted without proper assessments of the impact. Up to now, treated seeds have not been evaluated by the agency.

The report ignores some the greatest uses of neonicotinoids, said the Pesticide Action Network, adding that “EPA is missing the big picture of the cocktail of pesticides put on plants.”