Inhofe 'warns' EPA to move with caution on neonics

By Stephen Davies

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WASHINGTON, March 23, 2016 - EPA should “proceed with the utmost caution” in conducting risk assessments of neonicotinoid insecticides, Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a letter today to Jim Jones, the agency's assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention.

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The Oklahoma Republican cited a recent preliminary risk assessment on the insecticide imidacloprid that identified a threshold of 25 parts per billion, “above which effects on pollinator hives are likely to be seen.” Those effects include decreases in pollinators as well as less honey produced.

The assessment was criticized by both Bayer CropScience, a major registrant and manufacturer of imidacloprid, and environmental groups that have been fighting to get neonics banned.

Preliminary assessments for three other neonics - clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran - are scheduled to be released for public comment in December 2016. The comment period on the preliminary assessment for imidacloprid ends April 14.

In addition, environmental and food safety groups have filed a lawsuit in California challenging the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. Agricultural groups are attempting to intervene in that case.

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In his letter, Inhofe maintains that “there is generally a consensus that multiple factors are related to honey bee losses and no single factor, such as insecticides, have been identified as a cause.”

“It is critical that EPA determine if any neonicotinoid insecticides are actually used in practice at levels high enough to cause serious harm to honey bee populations before taking regulatory action,” Inhofe said. The news release from Inhofe's office was headlined, “Inhofe Warns EPA to Conduct ‘Neonics' Risk Assessment with Caution.”

 

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