For Immediate Release, May 27, 2020

Contact:

Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, ndonley@biologicaldiversity.org

EPA Asked to OK Bee-killing Dinotefuran on Apples, Peaches, Nectarines

‘Emergency’ Use Sought for 10th Straight Year in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is considering granting “emergency” approval of a bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticide for use on more than 57,000 acres of fruit trees, including apples, peaches and nectarines, in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

If granted, this would mark the 10th straight year that emergency exemptions of dinotefuran have been granted in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to target the brown marmorated stinkbug on pome and stone fruit trees, which are highly attractive to bees. The states are seeking what is presumably retroactive approval to spray from May 15 to Oct.15.

Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina and West Virginia have also been granted similar approvals for the previous nine years, but it is unknown whether they have also sought approval for 2020.

“The real emergency here is that the EPA is routinely using a backdoor process to approve pesticides that are extremely toxic to bees,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Last year alone the EPA used this exemption process to sidestep normal safety reviews and approve use of several bee-killing neonicotinoids across nearly 400,000 acres of crops. This reckless misuse of the exemption process has to stop.”

In addition to the dinotefuran emergency approvals for apple, peach and nectarine trees, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania have also been granted emergency approval for the past nine years to use bifenthrin, a toxic pyrethroid insecticide, on the same trees to battle the same pest.

“After a decade, it’s safe to say the same pests on the same trees are no longer an emergency,” said Donley. “While the EPA claims to want to protect pollinators, the reality is that the agency is actively accelerating their decline.”

The EPA has routinely allowed emergency exemptions for predictable and chronic situations that occur over many consecutive years. In 2019 the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report finding that the agency’s practice of routinely granting “emergency” approval for pesticides across millions of acres does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment.

The Center has filed a legal petition calling for EPA to limit emergency exemptions to two years as a way to prohibit some of the more egregious abuses of this process.

The emergency approvals for the neonicotinoid dinotefuran come as the EPA is in the process of reapproving multiple neonicotinoids for non-emergency use on some of the most widely grown crops in the country. The EPA pesticide office’s proposed decision stands in sharp contrast with the science-based decisions in Europe and Canada to ban or highly restrict neonics for outdoor use.

Authors of a major scientific review of the catastrophic decline of insects have said that a “serious reduction in pesticide usage” is key to preventing the extinction of up to 41% of the world’s insects in the next few decades.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.