Mon March 25, 2013

EPA Stung With Lawsuit Over Potentially Bee-Killing Pesticides

A coalition of beekeepers and environmental groups says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t doing enough to protect the nation’s declining bee population from pesticides.

The group has filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

The coalition, which includes the Pesticide Action Network, claims that the EPA has allowed pesticides toxic to bees to remain in dozens of widely used agricultural products for years.

Research says a combination of factors is responsible for the disappearance of honeybees, including pesticides and bacterial infections. U.S. beekeepers have been losing about a third of their bees annually, with many reporting losses of 40 - 50 percent in 2012.

Tom Theobald owns Niwot Honey Farms. He’s been a beekeeper in Boulder County for almost 40 years, and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"It’s been devastating. I'm practically out of business," he tells Colorado News Connection. "My honey crop this past year was less than 10 percent of what would have been considered a normal honey crop just a few years ago."

Theobald points out that honeybee health is often an indicator of the overall health of the nation’s ecosystem. A spokesman for the coalition says they hope the lawsuit forces the EPA to review pesticides and their effects on bees more rigorously.

The EPA has not commented on the suit, which was filed last week in the Northern District Court of California. The coalition filing the suit is represented by attorneys for the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Food Safety based in Washington, D.C.