EPA considers emergency use of bee-harming pesticide on Florida citrus crops


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking at possibly granting emergency approval for a bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticide for use on as many as 125,000 acres of Florida citrus crops. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had requested the Federal agency about the usage of clothianidin to prevent the transmission of Huanglongbing disease.

As per the EPA notice, those who would like to send in their comments on the request must submit them by Feb. 16. If the emergency approval is granted, then this would be the ninth straight year that emergency exemptions for use of clothianidin have been granted to be used on citrus trees in Florida. The agency statement said:

This notice does not constitute a decision by EPA on the application itself. As part of this request, the applicant asserts that clothianidin is needed to suppress the transmission of HLB disease vectored by ACP due to the lack of available alternative pesticides and effective control practices. Without the use of this tool, Florida citrus growers are expected to experience significant economic losses due to the severity of this invasive disease and vector complex.

Conservation organizations have opposed the move. Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said:

The true emergency here is the need to change the EPA’s growing habit of granting so-called emergency uses of pesticides that haven’t been approved as safe by the agency’s normal review process. By routinely handing out emergency exemptions, the EPA has made a joke of the pesticide-approval process that’s supposed to protect people and wildlife from harmful chemicals.

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