EPA has denied hiding information related to a crop protection product that Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) alleges caused the U.S. honeybee colony collapse.
NRDC recently filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act alleging that EPA “made no substantive response at all” to NRDC’s request for records on the toxic effects of the seed treatment active ingredient, clothianidine, on bees. The NRDC alleges that the Bayer CropScience product is responsible for the U.S. honeybee colony collapse and that EPA is hiding information on the issue. Chlothianidin, used in Bayer’s Poncho seed treatment, is made to protect corn, sugar beets, and sorghum seeds from pests.
In 2006, Bayer submitted safety data to EPA, which included how chlothianidine affects hives. The study demonstrated that when the chemical “when used according to label directions and applied correctly, will not harm bees.” The results of the study were published in the 2007 Journal of Economic Entomology.
EPA said that NRDC’s request was very broad and extensive, and would require more time to fulfill than the 20-day deadline set by NRDC. Further, the head of EPA’s pesticide office, Debra Edwards, expressed “great disappointment” with the lawsuit and with NRDC’s statements. She also said that EPA is open to discussing the issue with NRDC but found no record of any calls that were not responded to.
Clothianidine has been blamed in the southern part of Germany for its bee colony collapse and its sale is now suspended in that country, although the cause is still under review. According to a Bayer CropScience AG press release dated May 20, 2008, the company is working with authorities in the southern part of Germany and other companies to provide support for the affected beekeepers “on a voluntary basis while the circumstances of the bee losses are being clarified.”
Bayer CropScience, which has its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, says field studies have shown that bees’ exposure to the pesticide is minimal or nonexistent if the chemical is used properly.