WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued a proposed decision that greenlights the continued widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides, commonly known as “neonics,” despite EPA’s own analysis showing risks to bees, other wildlife and human health. The public will have sixty days to comment on the proposal.
The following is a statement from Jennifer Sass, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“EPA acknowledged it underestimated the risks posed by these neurotoxic pesticides to birds, bees, mammals, and even human health. Unfortunately, its response is woefully inadequate and offers only baby steps to address this serious threat. Instead of doing its job, EPA failed to apply a critical protective factor required by law in its assessment, leaving pregnant women and children at risk. Enough of the half-measures – we need strong and immediate action that protects people, wildlife, and the environment.”
Today, EPA released its proposed “interim” registration review decisions for five neonics. EPA’s assessments acknowledge currently permitted uses of neonics may harm bees, birds, small mammals, aquatic invertebrate species that are critical food sources for fish and other wildlife, as well as human health. While EPA proposed restricting neonic use on a number of crops and residential settings, in the main, the decisions would allow continued widespread neonic use.
People can be exposed to neonic pesticides through residues on food and in drinking water, and now scientists are concerned about how neonics may affect human health. Emerging research suggests that exposure to neonics during pregnancy could increase the risk of developmental defects, heart deformations, muscle tremors, and memory loss.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that pesticides be registered with the EPA before they are sold or used. Under FIFRA, EPA cannot register a pesticide if it causes unreasonable effects on the environment or if it presents a public health threat. In a process known as “registration review,” EPA must also review all pesticide registrations at least every fifteen years, to ensure they continue to meet these protective standards.
For the past ten years, EPA has performed registration reviews for five EPA-registered neonic chemicals: acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. The reviews assess neonics’ risks on pollinators, aquatic insects, wildlife, and human health. The risks identified will inform EPA’s ultimate decision to restrict, cancel, or approve a registration.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC