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France bans two US pesticides, citing risk to bees

Published: December 7, 2019
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Source: phys.org

French authorities on Wednesday banned two US pesticides which ecologists deem harmful to bees.

A court in Nice, ruling in a case brought by two ecological associations, banned the products from US group Dow AgroSciences, on the grounds that their containing sulfoxaflor was harmful to bees' nervous systems.

The court said sulfoxaflor was liable "to present a major risk of toxicity" to pollinators.

The court had already suspended the Transform and Closer brands products from sale in 2017 after they had received initial clearance from the French food and safety agency Anses.

Sulfoxaflor is designed to help protect fruit and vegetables against greenfly but some studies have suggested it can cause harm to bees—whose declining numbers are already a cause of concern in numerous countries—affecting their central nervous systems and disorientating them.

The maker of the products concerned in 2017 rated the sulfoxaflor-containing as less harmful to biodiversity than a range of other pesticides which European authorities have increasingly restricted over the risk they are feared to pose to bee wellbeing as well as to aquatic life and fish.

Dow AgroSciences is now known as Corteva after Dow Chemical and DuPont merged two years ago.

The Nice court found that measures to reduce any risk to bees by for example not applying the pesticide during the blossoming season were not sufficient to permit its use, citing previous concerns highlighted by EU authorities.

The also ruled that Dow AgroSciences and Anses should pay both the associations who brought the 1,500 euros ($1700) and urged tighter oversight for the authorisation of products which Francois Veillerette, director of Generations Futures, one of the bodies who brought the case, said could be "disastrous for biodiversity or human health."

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Beekeepers in the United States have begun to organize against a recent decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to allow a dangerous insecticide back on the market. The beekeepers have filed a lawsuit against the government agency for its inaction on the powerful insecticide, “sulfoxaflor.” The lawsuit cites information and statistics about the health risks to humans, animals, and insects.

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Pesticides sprayed in the southern U.S. to stop the spread of the Zika virus could turn the nation's honeybeesinto collateral damage. That is the warning issued by a study from the University of Exeter and the University of California, Berkeley published Friday in the Journal of Agricultural Research. The study found that 13 percent of U.S. honeybee keepers are at risk of losing their colonies from Zika spraying.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was wrong to approve the pesticide sulfoxaflor two years ago, a federal appeals court has ruled, forcing the chemical off the market. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled (pdf) last week in favor of a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice and others, saying the EPA erred when it approved the pesticide in 2013.

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