Is This EPA-Approved Pesticide a Bee Killer?

In November of 2010, two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists, an ecologist, Joseph DeCant, and a chemist, Michael Barrett, wrote an internal memo to the EPA’s insecticide risk management department expressing strong concerns about the potential dangers posed by a commonly available agricultural pesticide.

The subject of the memo was clothianidin, a synthetic, nicotine-based insecticide made by chemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer, marketed to farmers to kill aphids and beetles, and widely used on corn crops in the U.S.

Upon reviewing several scientific studies on the pesticide, the EPA scientists had become convinced that, in addition to poisioning target pests that plague farmers, it is also “highly toxic” to honeybees. In the November memo they warned their colleagues of “the potential for long term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.”

Urge the EPA to ban clothianidin – sign the Care2 petition now.

This is certainly not the first time the toxic effects of clothianidin on bees have come under scientific scruitiny.

Clothianidin has been banned in its maker Bayer’s home country of Germany since 2008, when the German Professional Beekeepers Association reported with alarm that 50-60% of honeybees in one region of the country died in a single season after visiting fields of corn and canola treated with the pesticide. Clothianidin has also been outlawed in Italy and France due to concerns about danger to bees.

In fact, in 2003, when Bayer first applied for a permit from the U.S. EPA to sell the chemical to farmers in America for use on food crops, the team of scientists who reviewed the inital application raised concerns about clothianidin’s toxicity to pollinating insects such as honeybees, and recommended further study.

But Bayer was granted conditional approval of clothianidin for sale that year by the EPA anyway.

In the years since, beekeepers across the country have noticed a dangerous decline in honeybee populations — an ecological crisis that threatens the American agricultural system. A mysterious illness, dubbed honeybee colony collapse disorder, which seems to cause worker bees to become disoriented and abandon their hives, has destroyed thousands of wild and commercial bee colonies.

Considering that honeybees are responsible for pollinating over a third of the food crops in the U.S., including popular foods like almonds, strawberries and watermelon, colony collapse disorder (CCD) threatens much more than bees and beekeepers — it threatens the very stability of the American food supply.

So far, there is no definitive scientific consensus that clothianidin, specifically, is behind CCD. Scientists have been exploring a wide variety of potential causes, including mites and viruses.

But entymologists, environmentalists and beekeepers agree that bees are generally under unprecedented stress from habitat loss, loss of natural food sources and overuse of synthetic pesticides. And that stress could well be making bee populations more vulnerable to CCD, whatever its cause.

Honeybees, beekeepers, and the farmers and consumers that depend on bees do not need one more toxic chemical threatening stressed bee populations. Scientific studies have repeatedly linked clothianidin to honeybee deaths. I urge U.S. residents to call on the EPA to withdraw clothianidin’s registation, and prevent further harm to the honeybees that help farmers grow America’s food.

Related Stories:

EPA Memo Shows Pesticide Harms Bees
Have Military Scientists Solved the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder Mystery?
Honeybee Crisis Continues – How You Can Help Stop Colony Collapse Disorder

Photo credit: USDA


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Frilly Lizard
Past Member 6 years ago

At one point Aussie bees were thought to be the problem. The Aussie bee was proven to be "pure". Our development as a nation is at a crossroads, our land is relatively uncontaminated, simply because of its youth, population and previous "inaccessability". We are a world power, and we have the power to ensure that our people live in a land where our health and wellbeing reigns over money and power. Monsanto has run rife in the US. Their tentacles are snaking into Australia. Our organic farmers are already losing their livelihood to this monster of genetic manipulation. If our bees are pure, let's do everything to ensure they remain that way. The whole world may depend on our relative isolation. Korea is already using manual labour to pollinate some of their fruit trees. That's so close to home! The whole world needs to address this problem! It is imperative to the whole world! It is imperative to our survival, and our children's survival, and our children's children's survival. Mankind, and yes, usually man, is the only animal who threatens his own survival for mercenary gains. Every other species takes what they need for survival, even those who store their food. Only mankind stores more than he needs and uses it to lord over others. Let's get rid of genetic manipulation for a start. Let's go organic. If GM wheat yields less over a ten year period than (organic) pre GM wheat, and storing does not deteriorate the food value, why go GM? For humanity's sake, let's go organic!

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly with Ian Donelson, and others who've essentially said the same thing. Stop the poisoning of our environment!

Akmal Pasha
Akmal Pasha6 years ago

I don't have to be a regulatory body to tell you the facts. Besides you people live in a dream-world oblivious of no-food situation, hunger and disease. Why don't you make a trip to Afro-Asia?

Akmal Pasha
Akmal Pasha6 years ago

You don't have to be a regulatory body to tell the facts. Besides, you guys live in a dream-world oblivious of no-food situation, hunger and disease.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton6 years ago

Are you the EPA or The DGASO?

Akmal Pasha
Akmal Pasha6 years ago

Countries with large population like China and India need to increase agricultural output to feed the increasing numbers. In the present situation, there is no substitute for synthetic chemical pesticides.

All the stories of organic farming is a wishful thinking that cannot be adopted for this purpose.

It is true, chemicals like clothianidin should be banned but we cannot do without chemical pesticides.

Guys, don't open your mouths before thinking. We do require these pesticides but the safer ones. (Nothing is 100 % safe, it is only comparative). Don't make way for hunger and food-riots.

Ian Donelson
Ian Donelson6 years ago

Instead of the EPA's funds being cut in half and the DEA's funds getting larger, it needs to be the other way around to allow for EPA to broaden it's scope and its ability to protect all of the worlds creatures as well as our precious ecosystem. Beyond emissions, the toxic status quo of our agriculture industry should be the number one priority of their enforcement along with resource drilling and mining.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

signed and noted

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran7 years ago

thanks for the info