Court Holds Bee-killing Pesticide Approvals Violated the Law

Pollinator News                 Dec. 9, 2017

Court Holds Bee-killing Pesticide Approvals Violated the Law

EPA must analyze risks to endangered species

Center for Food Safety—A Federal Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) systematically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – a key wildlife protection law – when it approved bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids. In a case ongoing for the last four years, brought by beekeepers, wildlife conservation groups, and food safety and consumer advocates, Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.

“This is a vital victory,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety legal director. “Science shows these toxic pesticides harm bees, endangered species and the broader environment. More than fifty years ago, Rachel Carson warned us to avoid such toxic chemicals, and the court’s ruling may bring us one step closer to preventing another Silent Spring.”

Seeds coated with bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides are now used on more than 150 million acres of U.S. corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops – totaling an area bigger than the state of California and Florida combined – the largest use of any insecticides in the country by far. Additional proceedings have been ordered to determine the correct remedy for EPA’s legal violations, which may lead to cancelling the 59 pesticide products and registrations, including many seed coating insecticides approved for scores of different crop uses.

The court’s ruling went against other claims in the lawsuit based on the plaintiffs’ 2012 petition and their procedural argument that EPA had not published several required Federal Register Notices. The beekeepers and others plaintiffs were relying on a petition filed in March of 2012, at which time the scientific evidence of the harm to bees, other critical species and the broader environment was far less developed. The original petition however is still lodged with EPA, and as such, its resolution is not yet fully decided.

“Vast amounts of scientific literature show the hazards these chemicals pose are far worse than we knew five years ago – and it was bad even then,” said CFS attorney Peter Jenkins. “The nation’s beekeepers continue to suffer unacceptable mortality of 40 percent annually and higher. Water contamination by these insecticides is virtually out of control. Wild pollinators and wetland-dependent birds are in danger. EPA must act to protect bees and the environment.”

The case is Ellis v. Housenger. The plaintiffs in the case are beekeepers Steve Ellis, Tom Theobald, Jim Doan, and Bill Rhodes; Center for Food Safety (CFS); Beyond Pesticides; Sierra Club; and Center for Environmental Health. They are represented by CFS’s legal team.  Beekeepers, Steve Ellis and Bill Rhodes, are Board members of the Pollinator Stewardship Council.



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Regenerative Agriculture in the News

“While the farmer holds the title to the land, actually it belongs to all the people, because civilization itself rests upon the soil.” Thomas Jefferson

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to A Green Planet
By Jacques Leslie, Dec. 2, 2017

The last great hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change may lie in a substance so commonplace that we typically ignore it or else walk all over it: the soil beneath our feet.  READ MORE

Sustainable agriculture is not enough; we need regenerative agriculture

Robert Riley, Iowa View contributor Published 2:13 a.m. CT Dec. 8, 2017

Iowa is a thermonuclear-powered photosynthetic manufacturing machine for calories and BTUs.  This is how I have thought of the agricultural industry in Iowa for many years, but it really started millions of years ago. Not just a few, but 350 million years ago. READ MORE

“Re(store) It”: Green America Launches Campaign On World Soil Day To Save The Earth … Literally

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Green America today launched the Re(store) It campaign to educate the public and U.S. corporations about the benefits of regenerative agriculture, an approach to farming which uses methods that rejuvenate the soil and trap greenhouse gases. The campaign will educate consumers about the importance of regenerative agriculture and offer ways to support it.
“We are in a farming crisis and we can no longer continue with our current industrialized, chemical-intensive system of agriculture,” said Anna Meyer, the food campaigns director at Green America. “If we want to sustain farming for future generations and reverse climate change, we must save the soil by adopting regenerative practices.”


Pollinator Stewardship Council has partnered with Ohio Prairie Nursery in support of pollinator habitat.  You can get native seeds for eastern U.S. planting zones here.  Select “Support our Cause”   to view featured seed selections to benefit pollinators.  A portion of sales generated from our website will help support our work.


Draft Bill Exempts Pesticides from Key Endangered Species Act Protections  

This draft legislation is a backdoor attempt to dramatically weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The draft legislation would exempt pesticides from key protections afforded endangered animals and plants by the ESA.  

 First, the legislation would eviscerate the ESA’s Section 7 consultation provisions, which require that federal agencies consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and/or the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to “insure” that their actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species and that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.

  Second, the legislation would shield the registration and label-consistent use of pesticides from liability under Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits the take — injury, death, or harm — of endangered animals.

 In place of the ESA’s strong measures to protect endangered species, the draft legislation thus only requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conduct a cursory review of the impacts to endangered species from pesticides, and most reviews would not be required before the 2030s.  This assessment would not consider the recovery of endangered species, but instead revives several efforts from past administrations to weaken protections for endangered species.  For example, the draft legislation revives Bush-era counterpoint regulations—struck down as illegal by a federal court—that would allow the EPA to self-consult on pesticide registrations without adequate review from the expert wildlife agencies. It would also revive long-discredited Reagan-era standards for analyzing impacts to critical habitat. This legislation would set back the recovery of hundreds of listed species, and potentially cause the extinction of species, such as endangered butterflies, most impacted by pesticides. READ THE DRAFT LEGISLATION FACT SHEET





Exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides induces embryotoxicity in mice and rabbits

ABSTRACT–The potential toxicity of neonicotinoids (thiacloprid, acetamiprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin) as well as related commercial products Calypso 480SC (thiacloprid mixture), Mospilan 20SP (acetamiprid mixture) and Agita 10WG (thiamethoxam mixture) on developmental capacities and quality of preimplantation embryos was evaluated. During in vitro tests, isolated 2-cell stage mice embryos were cultured in media with various concentrations of active compounds or commercial products until blastocyst formation. As found using stereomicroscopic examination, all neonicotinoids at highest (100μM) concentration negatively affected embryonic development (P < 0.001). Fluorescence staining revealed that the blastocysts obtained displayed lower numbers of blastomeres and elevated incidence of cell death. Thiacloprid and acetamiprid decreased quality of blastocysts also at 10μM concentration. From the tested products only Calypso 480SC containing 10μM of thiacloprid showed harmful impact on embryo quality. In an experiment using rabbit embryos, similar negative effect of thiacloprid in vitro was recorded. In vivo testing confirmed that blastocysts collected from thiacloprid-treated mice displayed lower total cell counts than blastocysts from controls. The sensitivity of embryonic cells to neonicotinoids is in the order of thiacloprid > acetamiprid, thiomethoxam > clothianidin. Thiacloprid impairs development and quality of both mouse and rabbit preimplantation embryos, and shows embryotoxicity even at acute reference dose.  READ MORE HERE 

Imidacloprid and chlorpyrifos insecticides impair migratory ability in a seed-eating songbird

Birds that travel long distances between their wintering and breeding grounds may be particularly susceptible to neurotoxic insecticides, but the influence of insecticides on migration ability is poorly understood. Following acute exposure to two widely used agricultural insecticides, imidacloprid (neonicotinoid) and chlorpyrifos (organophosphate), we compared effects on body mass, migratory activity and orientation in a seed-eating bird, the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). During spring migration, sparrows were captured, held and dosed by gavage daily for 3 days with either the vehicle control, low (10% LD50) or high (25% LD50) doses of imidacloprid or chlorpyrifos and tested in migratory orientation trials pre-exposure, post-exposure and during recovery. Control birds maintained body mass and a seasonally appropriate northward orientation throughout the experiment. Imidacloprid dosed birds exhibited significant declines in fat stores and body mass (mean loss: −17% low, −25% high dose) and failed to orient correctly. Chlorpyrifos had no overt effects on mass but significantly impaired orientation. These results suggest that wild songbirds consuming the equivalent of just four imidacloprid-treated canola seeds or eight chlorpyrifos granules per day over 3 days could suffer impaired condition, migration delays and improper migratory direction, which could lead to increased risk of mortality or lost breeding opportunity.  READ MORE HERE 



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 Annual 2018 Convention & Trade Show

The AHPA 49th annual convention will be January 9-13, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley, California.

Our trade show is one of the largest beekeeping trade shows in the country and it’s a highlight for the convention attendees to come and meet new companies and see new products.

We will have conference sessions on new research and hot topics within the beekeeping industry such as legislative changes, new science information, honey trade & adulteration issues, and honey market & pollination reports. Our key note speaker is Dr. Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy.

The group activity this year will be a Fiesta in Old Town San Diego! Don’t miss out on the fun!

Convention & Trade Show information and registration can be found on


American Beekeeping Federation 2018 Conference and Trade Show

Celebrate the 75th Diamond Anniversary of the ABF at the 2018 American Beekeeping Federation Conference & Tradeshow, January 9-13, at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. Discover the many facets of the ABF with four days of spectacular educational sessions, networking and fun.
-Hear from experts, trendsetters & influencers.
-Learn best practices.
-Shop a tradeshow full of the latest beekeeping innovations.
-Showcase your skills in the 2018 Honey Show.
-Have next-generation fun at the Kids and Bees program.
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75-YEARS STRONG! Make your plans today to join us in Reno for a brilliant conference and a celebration of the association’s 75 years of accomplishments.  More information go to


Seeds for honey bees EAST of the Mississippi!

OPN pic for PSc websitePlant pollinator forage for your bees. Pollinator Stewardship Council has partnered with Ohio Prairie Nursery in support of pollinator habitat.  You can get native seeds for the eastern U.S. planting zones here.  Select “Support our Cause”  to view featured seed selections to benefit pollinators.  A portion of sales generated from our website will help support our work.


Seeds for honey bees WEST of the MississippiBBB Seed Plant for Pollinators Proj logo

To increase plant biodiversity, improve gardens yields, and make a positive difference for the future, plant for pollinators WEST of the Mississippi with bbbseed.  Go to their website, today and Plant For Pollinators!


Betterbee Has Seeds for Pollinator Habitat betterbee logo

Betterbee was at the Massachusetts Beekeepers Assn. Spring Meeting offering a variety of seed mixes for beekeepers to plant.   You can find seven seed mix varieties at their website

Planting forage for our bees is important; and beekeepers can lead by example!


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Beekeepers Working for Beekeepers

The Board and Program Director are all beekeepers.   
We work to:

•    Raise awareness about the adverse impact of pesticides on pollinators critical to the supply of food and the ecosystem.

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