Anyone who loves the planet, the bees and food (isn?t that just about everyone?) will be celebrating thanks to the recent victory against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That?s because, on May 20, 2019, the EPA announced its final notices for the registration of 12 neonicotinoid pesticides.
Known as neonics, this group of pesticides has been the bane of most environmentalists? existences for many years. They have long been known for destroying bee populations, building up in groundwater, killing frogs, worms, birds and fish. Largely used in agricultural applications such as soil treatments, seed treatments, commercial turf products, neonics have also been used on trees, animal insect treatments and even domestic lawn products.
The Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Environmental Health, Pesticide Action Network and four commercial beekeepers: Steve Ellis, Jim Doan, Tom Theobald and Bill Rhodes banded together to initiate litigation against the EPA starting in March 2013. The environmentalists, food safety organizations and beekeepers spent the last 6 years holding the EPA accountable for its lack of diligence in preventing or addressing bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to demand that the EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and the environment.
Monday?s announcement that the EPA is cancelling the registration of 12 neonicotinoid that are known to kill bees and endangered species is part of the settlement the EPA accepted as part of the litigation process.
Two years ago, a federal court ruled that the EPA systemically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?a critical wildlife protection law, after noting that the government agency had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide range of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses. Seeds coated with neonics are used on over 150 million acres of American soy, corn, cotton and other crops.
According to the Center for Food Safety, neonics are chemically-related to nicotine and interfere with the nervous system of insects, causing tremors, paralysis and death even when they are administered at extremely low doses. Unlike other pesticides, neonics become dispersed throughout plants, causing the entire plant to become toxic. When bees or other pollinators are exposed to the chemicals through the pollen, nectar, dust or even dew droplets on the plants, they suffer nervous system damage and ultimately death.
Neonics were heavily used in the mid-2000s, around the same time beekeepers noted vast colony losses of bees.
Regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada and many other countries have been lax on their legislation which currently allows the sale and use of these destructive products. According to the Lori Ann Burd, the director at the Center for Biological Diversity, the EPA had actually considered increasing the use of neonicotinoids.
In Canada, The David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth (Canada), Ontario Nature and The Wilderness Committee filed a lawsuit against the Canadian federal government for allowing the use of two common neonic pesticides that had already been banned in the European Union. Sadly, the Canadian case had a different outcome as the case was dismissed by the Canadian federal court for a supposed lack of merit earlier this month.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, there is already extensive scientific evidence (over 1100 studies) of neonicotinoid-caused destruction to the environment, which includes:
- Becoming embedded into seeds that are planted
- Treated seeds are eaten by birds
- The dust from the seeds contaminates the air during planting
- Pollen and nectar eaten by bees is contaminated
- The insecticides wash into waterways like streams, rivers and oceans
- The soil is contaminated from year-after-year buildup
Of course, it is great news that the EPA has been forced to finally do the right thing. After all, without bees to pollinate food plants, our entire food supply is threatened.
Additionally, neonic exposures have been linked to human fatalities, developmental and neurological abnormalities, anencephaly, autism spectrum disorder, memory loss, liver cancer and tremors. Neonics have been found to affect receptors in the body that are critical to brain function, memory, cognition and behavior.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.