In the United States, new pesticide labels will better protect bees and other pollinators

This week the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced ‘new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present.’ You can see the new label design here.

These new labels are supposed to stop people using four neonics: imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. I’m not sure how this is to be enforced. It’s only supposed to apply ‘where bees are present,’ whatever that means.

Three of these neonic pesticides are the same ones which will be banned here in Europe for two years, starting from the end of 2013. Our ban will cover imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. I think (but could be wrong) that dinotefuran is already banned throughout Europe. If you know that I’m wrong about that, please tell me.

I think that both of these neonic bans – our own European ban, and the new US ban – are steps in the right direction. But our ban is only temporary, as if neonics will somehow stop being harmful after two years. And the US ban doesn’t look cheatproof, does it? It looks as though a farmer could say, ‘I saw no bees, so I went right ahead and sprayed my fields.’

You can see more under my ‘neonicotinoid’ tag.

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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12 Responses to In the United States, new pesticide labels will better protect bees and other pollinators

  1. Fred says:

    You’re right. They have to be banned in order for anything to work. Where there are no bees??? AHHH maybe at the polar ice caps??

    • argylesock says:

      Yes. I think that perhaps that label was designed my somebody who didn’t understand the science at all. Somebody who thought that ‘bees’ would simply mean ‘hives of honeybees.’

  2. Tony says:

    Given your past postings on Bee declines in the U S of A, this feels like a case of “after the horse has bolted”. I guess we should be thankful, that they are at least, putting some action plans together. It still suggests to me, having big businesses making big bucks is more important than looking after the Bees, Butterflies and other insects and invertebrates. Have we lost touch with Mother Nature, big business certainly has, I reckon. You truly don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone.

    • argylesock says:

      I see what you’re saying. But in a sense, the horse hasn’t bolted. The bees aren’t extinct. Getting rid of neonics might bring them back.

      • Tony says:

        Yes, indeed, I realise that. However, this potential ecological time bomb was apparent years ago and only public pressure seemingly brought their plight (the Bees et al) to the attention of the general public. Heck, they’re even linking these neonics to declines in farmland birds, well there’s a thing. It’s all conjecture as to what is the real reasons for declines in many birds, bees and butterflies, but doing nothing for far too long is the price we/they now pay.

  3. Finn says:

    Hello Sam, did you see in the news today that a stretch of the river Kennet in Wiltshire was wiped out because someone put an eggcup full of the insecticide chlorpyrifos down the drain? These chemicals are unbelievably powerful and I wonder how come they’re on sale to the general public when they can do that much damage. Apparently this small volume wiped out the insect life for 10 miles leaving the fish and the birds with no food.

    I got this from the Telegraph website about the same chemical:

    “The incident on the Kennet was the latest in a series of scares involving the pesticide, which is regularly used on lawns and golf courses.

    It was also held responsible for wiping out insect life on a large stretch of the River Roding in 1985, the River Wey in 2002 and 2003 and led to a significant number of fish being killed on the Rover Ouse in Sussex in 2001.

    Following the incident on the Kennet, people were advised not to allow water from a stretch between Marlborough and Hungerford to come into contact with their skin.

    In America the US Environment Protection Agency has placed limits on its use and the chemical was banned outright in Singapore for use in termite control in 2009.”

    …and in the UK it’s on sale to the public!

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