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Bee-Killing Nicotine Pesticide Illegally Registered in US - One Million+ Sign Emergency Petition
A remarkable emergency petition with over one million signatures has been submitted to the USEPA requesting the withdrawal of the pesticide clothianidin - a nicotine-based systemic pesticide widely used on corn/maize. Multiple activist organizations participated, lead by major US beekeepers.
The basis of the petition is that the USEPA's legal requirements for the demonstrated safety of clothianidin were never proven - and subsequent findings have shown its damages - violating the US law FIFRA, which governs the registration process for pesticides.
A coalition of beekeepers and activists gained over one million signatures on this petition, that walks step-by-step through the reasoning behind the proposed determination of the clothianidin registration's illegality - used as the basis for the withdrawal request.
This is fantastic.
Please pass this link to whomever you think might benefit.
Here is the excellent summary statement of the issues in the US; it may be useful for groups in other places:
SUMMARY OF PETITION
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. §136 et seq., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticide use in the United States. In violation of FIFRA, EPA continues to permit the sale and use of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid pesticide, for which EPA is lacking a pollinator field study the agency required eight years ago as a condition of clothianidin’s registration and as necessary to support the required “no unreasonable environmental effects” determination.1 In short, EPA has violated its own conditional registration procedures for obtaining outstanding data. That legal defect is at the heart of this Petition.
Allowing the continued sale and use of any pesticide while EPA lacks the scientific studies it needs to ensure the compound does not pose a hazard is irresponsible. Doing so with clothianidin is particularly damaging because neonicotinoid pesticides, and clothianidin in particular, function as systemic insecticides with physical and chemical properties allowing them to move easily within a given plant and reach its flowers, fruit, pollen and nectar – essentially making the whole plant poisonous to insects. The plant becomes potentially highly toxic to bees. This phenomenon could be a significant contributing factor in the recent, devastating decline in honey bee numbers and health and is likely a contributing factor in the decline of indigenous bee species as well as other insects, including Federally-listed threatened and endangered species.
Due to EPA’s actions and inactions, clothianidin and its “sister” pesticides now are spread widely throughout tens of millions of acres of both agricultural and neighboring lands. The neighboring lands are where these toxic compounds were not intended to be and often are lands not owned by the farmers applying the compounds. These lands adjacent to agricultural fields in many cases are prime remaining bee and native insect habitat. Due to the very long persistence of these compounds, and the uncontrollable drifting and blowing of contaminated dust and soil, bees and other insects are victims of multiple exposure pathways that EPA failed to assess when the agency allowed the pesticide onto the market – and still has failed to assess. Key among these exposure pathways are residues in pollen and nectar, dust from treated seeds and soils, planter exhaust, untreated but contaminated non-crop plants adjacent to treated fields, guttation droplets on both treated and untreated but contaminated plants and residues from foliar uses.2 With half-lives of several years in some situations and continuing uptake by rotational crops and volunteer weeds such as dandelions, neonicotinoids are drastically altering our nation’s rural insect populations and no label warnings or use directions are capable of mitigating this.
EPA has frankly dropped the ball and consistently underestimated the extent of translocation and the levels of exposure to clothianidin and other neonicotinoids that honey bees and other beneficial insects are suffering, as well as the extent to which non-crop lands that are not owned by the applicators are being contaminated. It is long past time for the agency to stop giving these pesticides a free pass. It is improper for the agency to continue to deflect responsibility by responding that abnormal bee mortality and poor health result from many factors and the precise contribution of neonicotinoids to these declines remains uncertain. The agency made a major procedural and analytical error that turned a blind eye to resolving that very uncertainty long ago. That error can be readily remedied by granting the relief sought in this document.
Accordingly, pursuant to the Right to Petition Government Clause contained in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,3 the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)4 and EPA’s implementing regulations and Special Review procedures,5 the Petitioners request the agency, on an emergency basis, to take four steps:
1) Cure clothianidin’s unlawful conditional registration. EPA should promptly suspend the registration of clothianidin and issue a stop sale, use or removal order pending compliance with the agency’s own procedural requirement to provide outstanding data, including but not limited to, the preparation, publication and agency review of a field study sufficient to support a finding that clothianidin does not pose any unreasonable adverse effects to honey bees and other insect pollinators.6 The agency imposed that condition but has failed under FIFRA to enforce its own requirement since 2004.
2) Prevent imminent harm. Should EPA refuse to initially suspend clothianidin’s conditional registration, Petitioners request EPA to promptly initiate Special Review and cancellation procedures for clothianidin pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 136d; and then suspend its registration pending completion of the cancellation proceedings based on the ongoing and imminent harm posed. Numerous peer-reviewed studies and other evidence of both acute and sub-lethal harm to bees from a variety of exposure pathways all across America’s agricultural landscapes support the need to stop the use of clothianidin.7 They demonstrate not only that it causes unreasonable adverse environmental effects, but also that it is an “imminent hazard” to the environment. Contributing to mass declines of honey bees and other beneficial insects and thus leading to severe economic and ecological impacts clearly meets that test.
3) Recognize clothianidin’s inadequate labels. Prompt suspension and a stop sale, use or removal order are also necessary because clothianidin is misbranded. FIFRA authorizes EPA to take such action when there is reason to believe a pesticide is being distributed or sold with inadequate labeling.8 Indeed, only seven months ago EPA issued just such an order when it discovered the herbicide “Imprelis,” newly registered by DuPont, was killing non-target coniferous trees.9 Like Imprelis, the labels for clothianidin products do not contain directions “adequate to protect health and the environment.”10 In the face of clear evidence that planting seeds treated with clothianidin is spreading this extremely persistent and accumulating pesticide across America’s crop fields and the product labels are inadequate to advise planters on how to prevent this, EPA’s labeling is defective.
4) Comply with the Endangered Species Act. EPA has violated Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to make required “effects” determinations and failing to undergo consultation concerning clothianidin’s impacts on native endangered and threatened species.11 Numerous native Federally-listed insects may be directly impacted and non-insect species, such as insectivorous birds, may be indirectly affected. Petitioners request the agency to make the required effects determinations and complete the Section 7 consultation process. EPA has sought to comply with the ESA retroactively, after its approval decision, which is illegal. It must suspend use of clothianidin in the interim to make this request meaningful. Otherwise users of this deadly insecticide may continue to take threatened and endangered species without appropriate mitigation or ESA compliance.
Failure by EPA to take the actions Petitioners request herein would severely harm Petitioners’ interests. It also would be arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the mandates of FIFRA, the ESA and the APA. In view of the emergency nature of this matter, the severity of the impacts the Petitioners are suffering and EPA’s excessive delays in resolving the questions of clothianidin’s environmental effects, the agency is urged to grant the requests in this Petition within 90 days of its filing date.
After identifying the Petitioners and their affected interests, and then citing the applicable law, this Petition provides an introduction to the argument (§ I), highlights a key new “State of the Science” report that supports the Petition (§ II), provides the background on EPA’s legal authority under FIFRA (§ III) and recounts EPA’s legal and procedural failures (§ IV). It then provides additional information on honey bee declines and the role of clothianidin (§ V), gives the flawed regulatory history of these pesticides (§ VI) and then gives five Statements of Legal Grounds to remedy the situation (§§ VII, VIII, IX, X and XI).
This Petition does not challenge the FIFRA conditional registration process as a whole, but Petitioners strongly urge EPA to review that process to determine whether it is being misused. The case of clothianidin, in which EPA has allowed a highly toxic compound to become extremely prevalent despite an eight year period of failure by the registrant to comply with a critical condition imposed specifically to assess the long-term threat the compound poses to honey bee survival, strikes Petitioners as a clear illustration that the conditional registration system is broken. In any event, the burden of proving clothianidin meets EPA’s criteria to be “entitled” to continued registration rests not with Petitioners, or with EPA, but with Bayer A.G. and other companies with clothianidin-containing products, per 40 CFR§ 154.5 on Special Review petitions:
Burden of persuasion in determinations under this part.
In making determinations under this part the Administrator shall be guided by the principle that the burden of persuasion that a pesticide product is entitled to registration or continued registration for any particular use or under any particular set of terms and conditions of registration is always on the proponent(s) of registration.
This Petition is motivated by a vast array of interests of the many Petitioners, who come from across the United States. The beekeeper and honey producers seek emergency relief due to severe economic impacts centered on the unsustainable mortality rates and poor health of their privately-owned honey bees, which will be aided if the Administrator provides the relief requested herein. The listed Petitioners are representative of this industry sector, in which there are thousands of similarly-affected businesses. The environmental and consumer organizations seek to represent the strong public interest in preserving healthy pollinators in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, as well as conserving native insects jeopardized by the persistent, systemic insecticide at issue.
Beekeeper and Honey Producer Petitioners. The following 27 beekeepers and honey producers are Petitioners (due to their large number, full descriptions of their particular interests follows at the end of this Petition in Table 1):
Jeff Anderson, Minnesota; Manley and Linda Bigalk, Iowa; Tim Brod, Colorado; Coalition4Bees, Colorado; Craig Byer, New York; Cynthia Cole, Massachusetts; Ross Conrad, Vermont; James Doyle, Indiana; Steve Ellis, Minnesota; Adam French, Idaho; Tim Fulton, Wisconsin; David Hackenberg, Pennsylvania; Paula Hendricks, Ohio; Dr. Carl Korschgen, Missouri; Dr. Daniel Mayer, Montana; Gary McCallister, Colorado; Miles McGaughey, Colorado; Cass Moore, Ohio; Charles Mraz, Vermont; Eloise Naylor, New Jersey; Michael Risk, Michigan; Gus Rouse, Hawaii; Tom Theobold, Colorado; Tim Tucker, Kansas; Charles Vorisek, Pennsylvania; Western Colorado Beekeepers Association, Colorado; Stephen Whittlesey, Massachusetts.
Environmental and Consumer Organization Petitioners. The following four environmental and consumer organizations are Petitioners (full descriptions of their particular interests are at the end of this Petition in Table 2):
Beyond Pesticides, Washington, DC; Center for Food Safety, Washington, DC, and San Francisco; International Center for Technology Assessment, Washington, DC; Pesticide Action Network of North America, San Francisco.
Broader Public Interest in this Petition
Petitioners are not alone in seeking emergency relief. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have endorsed an informal citizen petition already urging EPA’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, to stop the use of clothianidin.12 Intense public concern over EPA’s actions is visible through comments, position papers, articles and books representing a vast spectrum of stakeholders across the country. Administrator Jackson and the agency cannot ignore the public concern over the loss of honey bees, other beneficial insects, resulting economic and ecosystem damages and the unnecessary persistent toxic pollution of America’s vast agricultural landscapes that EPA’s actions and inactions enabled.