Court Sides with the Bees, Overturns EPA Approval of a Pesticide

Written by Margaret Badore

Appeals court calls EPA approval of bee-threatening pesticide “based on flawed and limited data.”

A federal appeals court has overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, citing the threat to already vulnerable bee populations. Sulfoxaflor is used in several products manufactured by Dow AgroSciences for use on fruits, vegetables and grains. It’s sold under the brand names Closer and Transform.

The EPA approved sulfoxaflor, which belongs to a classes of pesticides called neonicotinoids, back in 2013. But prior to approval, even the EPA seemed concerned about the dangers the pesticide posed to bees, and asked for more data. However, according to the court opinion, approval was granted before the additional studies were completed.

A growing body of research implicates neonicotinoids in the global decline of bee populations. A recent assessment by the European Food Safety Authority found that several types of these pesticides pose a ‘high risk’ to bees.

The court ruling is the outcome of a lawsuit filed by a group of beekeepers against the EPA. Although the ruling does not affect the many other types of neonicotinoid pesticides on the market, it may set an important precedent. Greg Loarie, an attorney for EarthJustice who represented the beekeepers in the suit, told Mother Jones  that the ruling shows the EPA must ask for robust data from pesticide manufacturers. Future studies should show that pesticides are not only safe for individual bees, but also safe for the entire hive.

“Without sufficient data, the EPA has no real idea whether sulfoxaflor will cause unreasonable adverse effects on bees,” stated the court decision.

That’s important, because colony collapse disorder is a complicated phenomenon that may be caused by a confluence of environmental threats. It seems likely that a buildup of sublethal exposure to pesticides may have ripple effects for the larger colony.

The court concludes: “In this case, given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it.”

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

EPA are like Fish and Wildlife or USDA and its Wildlife Services.. staffed mostly by corporate bribed criminal psychopaths

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Good news. We have to start taking care of the bees.

Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

Great ruling, although sadly I'm sure it will continue to get appealed.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago


Vivianne Mosca-Clark

It will be good when we stop poisoning a lot of lives.

william Miller
william Miller3 years ago


Kathy K.
Kathy K3 years ago


Lori Hone
Lori Hone3 years ago

Excellent news!!