Syngenta Asks EPA to Raise Limits for Neonicotinoid Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Deaths

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While the European Union has enacted bans on neonicotinoid pesticides because of the link to dropping pollinator populations, seed and chemical company Syngenta wants the EPA to raise tolerance levels for the same pesticides here in the U.S.

According to a notice posted in the Federal Register, Syngenta wants the EPA to amend pesticide levels and to increase approval for levels 400 times what’s currently approved, in one case.

“The petition would apply to alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat, both the crop itself and the straw and stover left over after cultivation,” reports E&E News. “Syngenta is seeking to increase the levels from as low as 1.5 times for stover from sweet corn to as much as 400 times for hay from wheat.”

Thiamethoxam in particular is a neonicotinoid pesticide that has been connected to colony collapse disorder affecting honeybees. Syngenta claims that its intended use of thiamethoxam would be less harmful because the company wants to use topically on leaf rather than in treating seeds, its current method. Foliar treatments, claims Syngenta, would be more likely to “stick to the leaf.”

The company claims it’s committed to biodiversity and the health of pollinators, even despite the connection between its chemicals and the declining pollinator populations.

But according to a bee toxicologist from Ohio State University, an increased residue of the pesticide could be problematic if done when plants like alfalfa are blooming, he told E&E News.

The EPA is accepting public comments until October 6th on the proposal to increase the tolerances for pesticides.

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Image: Gilles San Martin

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.