The Good Fight for Honeybees
A U.S. federal appeals court has blocked the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor over concerns about its effect on honeybees, which have been disappearing throughout the country in recent years. “Initial studies showed sulfoxaflor was highly toxic to honeybees, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was required to get further tests,” says Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder. “Given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it.” The product, sold in the U.S. as Transform or Closer, must be pulled from store shelves by October 18.
Paul Towers, a spokesperson for the nonprofit advocacy group Pesticide Action Network, comments, “This is [an example of] the classic pesticide industry shell game. As more science underscores the harms of a pesticide, they shift to newer, less-studied products, and it takes regulators years to catch up.”
On another front, an insect form of Alzheimer’s disease caused by aluminum contamination from pesticides is another suspected contributing cause of the well-documented widespread bee colony collapse, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Honeybees studied had levels of aluminum in their bodies equivalent to those that could cause brain damage in humans.