California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation has proposed limiting the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on farms to protect pollinators.

Significantly, neonics “are widely used as an alternative to chlorpyrifos, which DPR ended virtually all use of in 2020,” the agency said. In a decision with impacts outside of California, EPA also has revoked food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, a decision grower groups are challenging in court.

“At certain levels of exposure, neonicotinoids present risks to pollinators,” DPR said in a news release.

The proposed regulations “are based on extensive scientific studies,” DPR added and would affect products containing any of four active ingredients: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran. It does not affect seeds coated with neonics.

“DPR estimates the regulations will impact 57 products currently registered in California and will reduce the amount of neonicotinoids applied across the state by approximately 45%,” DPR said.

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Applications to certain flowering plants that are attractive to bees would be prohibited when the plants are in bloom and when bees may be foraging, DPR said. 

“The regulations also set limits on applications of multiple neonicotinoids and what application methods may be used by growers,” DPR said. “They also include an exemption for quarantine pests to provide the option, if necessary, to treat pests that can severely damage crops and food supply chains. The regulations address both risks to bees and ensures the protection of pollinators critical to growers and the agricultural sector.”

DPR is taking comments through April 26, with a hearing set for April 25.

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