US Court rules out new neonicotinoid

Friday 11th September 2015

Judges in the U.S. yesterday ruled that the pesticide regulator Environmental Protection Agency had erred in allowing the use of sulfoxaflor a new type of neonicotinoid, insecticides that have been contributing to the decline of bees and other pollinators.  The court highlighted that the EPA had used "flawed and limited data" to justify its approval and concluded "Given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA's registration of sulfoxaflor in place risked more potential environmental harm".

Last month the same agrotoxin was approved for use in the EU, despite the European Food Standards Authority, the EU pesticide regulator, being unable to determine if it posed a risk to bees or pollinators or not.  EFSA feebly stated that “With the available assessments a high risk to bees was not excluded” and “a data gap was agreed to further address the risk to honey bees for the field uses. It is further noted that the available assessments for the field uses refer to honey bees and other pollinators such as wild bees are not covered”.

Matt Shardlow CEO of Buglife said “The public will be justifiably confused and concerned by these seemingly paradoxical decisions by pesticide regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.  Now that the impacts of existing neonicotinoids on bees are well established the regulators should be making sure that all new pesticides are bee safe.  Unfortunately regulators and some governments, including particularly the UK Government, appear to be completely enthralled by the pesticide industry and efforts to improve the wholly inadequate authorisation process are being politically blocked.  This is completely unacceptable, our bees must be made safe from agrotoxins.”

Manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences had tried to rebrand sulfoxaflor as ‘not a neonicotinoid’.  This case establishes it to be a type of neonicotinoid.

EFSA Decision
U.S. court decision