Last week commercial beekeepers filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco charging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to ban two pesticides associated with bee deaths. The pesticides - clothiandin and thiamethoxam - are classified as neonicotinoids and are also the focus of a proposed EU ban.
The suit comes a year after commercial beekeepers filed a legal petition asking the EPA to ban clothiandon.
While most of the insecticides are used in the Midwest, the wine industry in California in 2010 contributed 2,389 pounds of clothianidin over 19, 553 acres and 537 pounds of thiamthoxam over 9,308 acres.
Bayer makes the insecticides in Germany where its use has been banned. More than $262 million worth of the neonicotinoids were sold in 2010. The insecticides were introduced in the 1990s.
France and Italy have also already banned neonicotinoids in order to prevent further harm to honeybees. The European Food Safety says that the insecticides harm bees; further research says the insecticides also harm butterflies and ladybugs.
A recently released 100-page overview of 200 studies shows the insecticides pose a serious threat to birds and persist in aquatic ecosystems. You can read the executive summary and full report here. The EPA has ignored its own scientists' warnings on this group of insecticides.
Coverage from AP said, "Experts say some beekeepers have lost up to 50% of their colonies."
Bees are responsible for pollinating 760,000 acres of almonds, which is 80% of the world's almond supply, in addition to pollinating a third of other American crops.
The suit also says that allowable levels are harmful levels of exposures.
A new peer-reviewed study released in the UK found that the insecticides makes bees fail to associate food with floral scents.
Joining the Center for Food Safety in filing the suit were four beekeepers, the Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network, Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Environmental Health.
UPDATE: Bayer has now proposed a new program for bee health to avoid the proposed EU ban - environmentalists decry the program. See article here.