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by David Salman

Honey bee on lavender.
A honey bee on lavender.
Finally, there is some good news regarding protection of our precious bees. This is from the July/August issue of The American Gardener, the fantastic gardening magazine from the American Horticultural Society. (If you don’t have a subscription, you’re missing a lot a great articles and information about plants and gardening.) “Federal Court Shelves Pesticide (quoted from July/Aug. issue of The American Gardener) Following a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Xerces Society, a New York federal court ruled that the systemic insecticide spirotetramat be removed from circulation due to concerns about its long term effects on honeybees and other pollinators. The pesticide, produced by Bayer CropScience, goes by the trade names Monvento, Ultor, and Kontos. It was approved for use on hundreds of crops - including apples, pears, peaches, oranges and tomatoes - by the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2008 (during the Bush Administration’s tenure), but the court found that the EPA did not meet the legal requirements for registering a pesticide. When an insecticide manufacturer submits an application for its product to be registered by the EPA, the agency is legally obligated to publish it for review by the public, as well as allow for public comments for 30 days. (This pesticide is already banned in Europe when it was recognized to be leading cause of honeybee mortality; my comment.) In the case of spirotetramat, the EPA failed to follow this process. The NRDC and the Xerces Society filed the lawsuit, in part because of beekeepers’ fears that the insecticide may have a delayed, negative impact on bee populations that is not fully understood because of the absence of long-term data. The court ordered the removal of spirotetramat from the market in December 2009, and in March 2010, the EPA announced a temporary cancellation order, which bans its sale and distribution. The agency must now reevaluate the pesticide to determine whether it is likely to cause chronic damage to bee colonies. All the more reason to be eating organically produced foods and refusing to let these big multinational corporations put profits before the welfare of the environment and public health!