WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today sent a letter to Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), expressing concern with a series of risk assessments being conducted on neonicotinoid insecticides known as “neonics”.
In the letter Inhofe wrote, “Indeed, the limited findings of your imidacloprid risk assessment have already prompted misleading and sensationalist headlines from the media and calls by well-funded environmental activist groups to outright ban neonicotinoid instecticides. In fact, Mother Jones reported that an EPA spokesperson stated, ‘The report card was so dire that the EPA ‘could potentially take action’ to ‘restrict or limit the use’ of the chemical by the end of the year.' Additionally, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has flooded the comment docket with a mass generated letter that urges ‘EPA to speed up its schedule for registration review and cancel any uses of imidacloprid that pose high risks to bees and other pollinators.’ However, NRDC and others have been calling for a ban on neonicotinoids for years and seem to be most concerned with their desired policy outcome, instead of properly identifying the causes of and mitigating recent declines in bee populations. These calls do not heed a risk-based regulatory approach and I urge you to prudently evaluate the findings and regulatory options to determine what is fair to all stakeholders.”
Neonics have been targeted by environmental activists as the cause for recent declines in bee populations despite widespread agreement among scientists studying the issue that there are many factors related to their decline and a lack of evidence that bees are exposed to neonics at a level high enough to cause harm.
On Jan. 4, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a preliminary risk assessment onimidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide. In addition, EPA plans on conducting three more preliminary risk assessments on neonicotinoid insecticides, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, to be released for public comment in December 2016. These risk assessments are part of ongoing insecticide registration review and helps fulfill EPA’s role in the Presidential Pollinator Strategy that was initially prompted in 2006 when some beekeepers began reporting sudden losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. The findings of the risk assessments will form the basis of any future regulatory actions by EPA that could restrict their use.
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