Oregon bans some insecticides following bee deaths

by Cassady Craighill

July 3, 2013

Beekeeper Henk Brouwer shows his dead bees. Half of the population of his colonies has died after the winter period. Bees and other pollinators both natural and managed seem to be declining globally, but particularly in North America and Europe. Lack of robust regional or international programs designed to monitor the current status and trends of pollinators means there is considerable uncertainty in the scale and extent of this decline. Nonetheless, the known losses alone are striking. In recent winters, honeybee colony mortality in Europe has averaged around 20% (with a wide range of 1.8% to 53% between countries). Imker Henk Brouwer in Zwiggelte bemerkt een massale sterfte onder zijn bijenkolonies na de winterperiode. Bijen en andere bloemenbestuivers nemen in aantal af, vooral in Europa en Noord Amerika. Er zijn geen goede landelijke of internationale programma's die de sterfte in kaart brengen dus het is niet bekend hoe hard het gaat. In de afgelopen winters was de sterfte gemiddeld 20% (varierend van 1.8 % tot 53% tussen verschillende landen).

© Greenpeace / Bas Beentjes

Beekeeper in the NetherlandsImker in zijn Imkerij

Originally posted to Grist by John Upton

Bees and other insects can breathe a little easier in Oregon for now. The state has responded to the recentbumbleocalypse in a Target parking lotby temporarily banning use of the type of pesticide responsible for the high-profile pollinator die-off.

For the next six months, it will be illegal to spraySafari or other pesticides[PDF] containingdinotefuranneonicotinoids in the state.Oregons ban comes after more than 50,000 bumblebees and other pollinators were killed when Safari was sprayed over blooming linden trees to control aphids in a Wilsonville, Ore., parking lot. A similar incident inHillsboro, Ore., was also cited by the states agriculture department as a reason for the ban.

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Cobasaid in a statement[PDF] that she has directed her agency to impose the ban to help prevent further such bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed.Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered.

Somewhat confusingly, retailers will still be allowed to sell the products. It will just be illegal for landscapers and gardeners to actually use them.FromThe Oregonian:

Were not trying to get it off the shelves, or trying to tell people to dispose of it, were just telling people not to use it, said Bruce Pokarney, a spokesperson for the department of agriculture.

While Pokarney acknowledged it would be difficult to cite individual homeowners, he said licensed pesticide applicators would be violating Oregon regulations if they use dinotefuran-based insecticides on plants in the next 180 days.

The temporary ban only affects pesticide use that might harm pollinators, like bumblebees. Safari is one of the insecticides restricted by the Agriculture Department. Most of the restricted insecticides are used primarily for ornamental, not agricultural, pest control.

Dinotefuran use in flea collars, and ant and roach control will still be allowed.

The Xerces Society, a nonprofit insect conservation group thats helping to investigate the pollinator die-offs, thinks the temporary ban is a good idea. But Executive Director Scott Black said it would be an even better idea if sales of the pesticides were suspended, lest consumers unwittinglyuse them in violation of the law. At a minimum, all products on the shelf should have clear signage about the restriction on their use, he told Grist.

Guess who thinks the ban is not such a good idea?

We do not believe the scope of these measures is necessary with the information available,Safari manufacturer Valent said in a statement, and we will work to get the restrictions lifted as soon as possible.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin whotweets, posts articles toFacebook, andblogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:[email protected].
Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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