Agriculture Abuzz Over EPA Pollinator Efforts

Jan 19, 2017
​Rusty patch bumblebee
WASHINGTON, DC -- On the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing the Rusty Patch Bumblebee as an endangered species, EPA released several documents late last week on the risks to bees from pesticide use.  The first document is a non-binding policy statement outlining new recommended labeling statements for mitigation of acute risks to bees from pesticide products.  Pesticide registrants can voluntarily adopt the new labeling statements, but EPA cannot compel compliance.
The other documents released include the preliminary bee risk assessments for the neonicotinoid products clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran.  The assessment lists rice as a crop that has low on-field risk to bees due to the fact that rice is self-pollinating.  Seed treatments are the primary vehicle for neonicotinoid use in rice, but EPA appears to have no risk data from rice seed treatments at this time.  Release of these documents was highly anticipated following a similar draft risk assessment for imidicloprid published in January 2016.  EPA plans to use the data from the final risk assessments in the registration review of these four neonicotinoid products.
“Rice has few crop protection products to use against pests so it’s important to have as many tools in our pest management toolbox as possible,” said Ray Vester, Arkansas farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee.  “These products are some of the last available options for producers to manage certain pests and we are hopeful that the low-risk status of rice will support our case to keep these crucial registrations for our industry.”
USA Rice commented on the Draft Risk Assessment for the neonicotinoid imidicloprid in early 2016.  USA Rice staff is currently reviewing the pre-release copies of these risk assessments in order to draft comments on their effects for the rice industry.