Dec. 20, 2010 – A memo leaked to a Colorado beekeeper indicates that the EPA was well-aware that the pesticide Clothianidin poses serious risks to honey bees, according to WikiLeaks. Yet the federal agency allowed Bayer to widely use the pesticide on corn, wheat and other staple food products, amounting to a $262 million cash crop for the Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and chemical company. Sickening? – Global Animal
While the WikiLeaks media frenzy may have been focused on the release of tens of thousands of classified military and U.S. State Department documents, it’s a leaked Environmental Protection Agency document that has conservationists, environmentalists and beekeepers abuzz.
The November 2nd memo, leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, indicates that the EPA was well-aware that the pesticide Clothianidin posed some serious risks to honey bees. There have been concerns about this chemical from as far back as 2003, and it’s already been banned in Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia because of its toxicity. But the EPA chose to sweep all that under the rug to keep the pesticide on the market.
Clothianidin, marketed as “Poncho” by Bayer, is widely used on corn, as well as canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers and wheat. As if the $262 million cash crop from last year wasn’t enough, Bayer wants to keep expanding the pesticide’s use. And the company’s original registration was based on some seriously flawed science: they evaluated the wrong crop, with the wrong controls to assess the impact on bees.
This all adds up to some serious questions about the government contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder as they knowingly allowed Bayer to poison bees. And this is about a lot more than honey production … native habitats, and as much as one-third of America’s food supply, rely on the pollination provided by bees.
In light of the leaked memo, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the EPA requesting that the agency “take urgent action to stop the use of this toxic chemical.”
The letter goes on to point out that this new information indicates an overuse of the Office of Pesticide Program’s conditional registration program. This bee boondoggle “represents a failure that could and should have been avoided.” As a result, the coalition is calling for an immediate moratorium on these types of registration until the program is evaluated.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Colony Collapse Disorder and the massive bee die-offs it’s been causing. One thing we do know is that bees are in trouble, and that’s not good news for all the animals (and humans) who rely on the plants these important insects sustain.
Excerpt from leaked EPA memo:
Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.
See entire pdf document here: http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/Memo_Nov2010_Clothianidin.pdf