EPA Agrees to Evaluate Effects of Neonics

Agency Will Analyze Impacts of Acetamiprid and Dinotefuran on Imperiled Species

WASHINGTON, D.C. – NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled the remaining claims in NRDC’s 2017 lawsuit, which challenged the EPA’s failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when approving dozens of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”). The agreement directs EPA to evaluate the effects of two neonics – acetamiprid and dinotefuran – on endangered and threatened species by October 2024. If EPA determines that endangered or threatened species are likely harmed by these neonics, EPA must formally consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding their effects. That consultation could result in new restrictions on how and where these pesticides can be used.  

The following is a quote from Lucas Rhoads, Staff Attorney with the Pollinator Initiative at NRDC.  

“For years, EPA has been dodging its responsibilities under the ESA when approving products containing acetamiprid and dinotefuran. Today’s settlement forces EPA to finish its overdue analysis, which should confirm just how harmful these neonics are to imperiled birds, bees, and other wildlife and lead to meaningful restrictions on their use.”  


NRDC sued in 2017 to challenge EPA’s approval of various pesticides containing imidacloprid, acetamiprid, and dinotefuran—which all belong to a class of pesticides called neonics. In 2021, NRDC and EPA reached a partial settlement, which required the EPA to evaluate the impacts of imidacloprid on endangered and threatened species by June 30, 2022. EPA has made an initial finding that widespread use of imidacloprid is likely harming nearly 80 percent of the country’s threatened and endangered species.  

The ESA requires EPA to ensure that pesticides registered by the agency are not likely to jeopardize threatened and endangered species or adversely modify their designated “critical habitat.” If the pesticide may affect these protected species or habitat, the EPA must complete consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before registering the chemical. However, the EPA failed to even initiate the consultation process before registering products containing imidacloprid, acetamiprid, and dinotefuran.  

Since their introduction in the 1990s, neonics have been identified as a leading cause of pollinator losses and linked with broader harm to birds, other wildlife, and aquatic ecosystems. Despite these vast environmental harms, EPA has continued allowing widespread use of neonics, which are now the most widely used insecticides in the country.  

More Information on NRDC’s Neonic Lawsuit:   

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) 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, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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