Pesticide manufacturers and applicators are examining the impacts of a California decision to “freeze”  uses for neonicotinoids while the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation re-evaluates their effects on pollinators.

DPR issued a notice last week saying that it would not approve new or expanded uses for products currently being re-evaluated. Products affected include four neonicotinoids – thiamethoxam (trade name: Cruiser), clothianidin (Poncho, Votivo), imidacloprid (Gaucho), and dinotefuran (Venom).

“When DPR completes the reevaluation, we will be able to consider a request for expanded/amended use,” DPR spokesperson Charlotte Fadipe said. “DPR is unlikely to complete the reevaluation on the four neonicotinoids until at least this summer.”

Fadipe also said the decision “has no direct impact on growers. Current uses on the label still apply.”

The California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) said it is in a “wait and see” mode regarding the decision. “We at CAPCA have not discussed this to the point where we have any comment one way or the other,” said Rick Wescott, chair of CAPCA’s board of directors.

Bayer CropScience, which makes imidacloprid and clothianidin, said it’s reviewing DPR’s decision “and how it might impact our ability to offer new innovations to farmers. At this time, we believe one new registration (for a seed treatment) may have to be withdrawn in light of the CDPR’s announcement, slowing technology to help farmers in their fields.” Bayer said it couldn’t be more specific about the seed treatment.

“We stand behind the rigorous testing of our products and their ability to meet current science-based regulatory requirements in California and elsewhere,” Bayer said.

And Syngenta said it has only one product, a seed treatment with thiamethoxam, pending review by DPR.

The decision arose from a state appeals court decision late last year that found DPR had not properly evaluated the effects of two dinotefuran products on honeybees before allowing expanded use of the products. The lawsuit was brought by the Pesticide Action Network.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) praised the DPR action. “California’s decision to halt further increases in harmful neonicotinoid pesticides is an important step toward reversing dangerous bee declines,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the center’s environmental health program. 

Lori Ann Burd

Lori Ann Burd

Syngenta recently asked EPA to allow thiamethoxam to be used on wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potato. The request mostly includes “new uses on already registered crops that are considered unattractive to pollinators,” Syngenta said. “Before we could submit these labels to California, EPA would need to complete its approval process, and DPR would need to finish its reevaluation.” 

But CBD said the company’s application to EPA would allow thiamethoxam to be sprayed directly on the crops, “greatly increasing the amount of pesticide that could be used.” CBD and many environmental groups contend that increasing neonicotinoid use is a major reason for pollinator declines.

Syngenta and other neonic manufacturers, however, contend that used according to the label, their products are safe for humans and the environment.