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EU Court Rejection of Bee Protection Exemptions

A European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided (January 19) that EU countries can no longer grant temporary exemptions from rules preventing the use of seeds treated with banned plant protection products under EU law.

The plant protection products–imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam–are among the class of pesticides known as “neonicotinoids,” which target insects. Neonicotinoids are believed to be contributing to the decline of bees by disrupting their orientation, memory, and mode of reproduction.

Reporting indicates that half of all current exemptions could be ended by this ruling.

(posted: 1-22-23)


Pesticides and PFAS

The EPA announced (September 1) that it is proposing a rule to remove 12 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from its list of “inert” chemical substances approved for use in pesticides.

If the rule is finalized, it will prevent the 12 ingredients from being used in pesticide applications. While the chemicals are not currently used in any pesticide products, the EPA says that it is important to take this action if their use by a manufacturer is requested in the future.

(updated: 9-8-22)


Infrastructure Act - Pollinator Funding

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included a new $2M annual program to carry out activities that benefit pollinators on roadsides and highway rights-of-way. The Act also included $50 million for a new program to fund projects by States to eliminate or control existing or new invasive plants along and in areas adjacent to transportation corridor rights-of-way. Projects will be prioritized that utilize native plants and wildflowers.

(updated: 2-2-22)


American Bumble Bee

FWS issued a notice (September 29, 2021) to conduct a 12-month review on the need for protection of the American Bumble Bee under the ESA. The Center for Biological Diversity and Bombus Pollinators Association of Law Students submitted a petition for this purpose and FWS agreed to conduct the review. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Bee Populations Overall

Bee protection issues began in earnest around 2006 when beekeepers began reporting high rates of collapse in bee colonies, which became known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Since that time, the Federal Government has increased research, planning, and specific actions to address this issue. According to the EPA, ongoing research remains focused on finding answers and solutions to CCD, centering on the following probably causes including:


  • Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees);

  • New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema; 

  • Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control; 

  • Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services; 

  • Changes to the habitat where bees forage;

  • Inadequate forage/poor nutrition; and, 

  • Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Neonicotinoids Biological Evaluations

The EPA released three Biological Evaluations (BEs) for public review and comment on August 26, 2021. The draft BEs find that each of the three chemicals is likely to adversely affect certain Endangered Species Act listed species, or their designated critical habitats. The EPA's  “likely to adversely affect” determination means that EPA reasonably expects that at least one individual animal or plant, among a variety of listed species, may be exposed to the pesticide at a sufficient level to have an effect, which will be adverse. The EPA uses BEs to develop a so-called "biological opinion" which, in turn, could lead to additional protections by the agency. 

Some researchers and bee protection interest groups believe neonicotinoids are tied to declining bee populations. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides used widely on farms and in urban landscapes, are absorbed by plants and can be present in pollen and nectar, which could make them toxic to bees. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


USDA Pollinator Plan (2021)

The USDA released its annual pollinator research and program/project priorities through its Annual Strategic Pollinator Priorities and Goals Report (April, 2021). The current four key priorities detailed in the Report: 

  • Identify factors associated with biological declines (e.g., bee survival, growth, reproduction) of commercially important pollinators;

  • Understand factors affecting yields and income derived from honey and other products of commercial beehives;

  • Assess the economics of possible crop yield improvement through supplementing honey bee pollination with non-Apis pollination; and, 

  • Establish the status of and improve technologies for the collection and curation of baseline data on pollinator populations (e.g., improved species identification technologies and access to such technologies, establishing and cross-referencing databases, augmenting collections, and monitoring crop visitations and landscape use).

(updated: 2-2-22)


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Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Use
Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Use

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Final Rule revoking all tolerance levels in food of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which effectively bans its use in the United States. Chlorpyrifos has been studied for the better part of a decade, particularly with respect to its impact on food and children.

Status: this Final Rule was issued on August 18, 2021.


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