Just last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it completed the registration of a new yucky pesticide, flupyradifurone, that would be marketed as an alternative to neonicotinoid pesticides, and “safer for bees.” A close look at this yucky chemical reveals that flupyradifurone is highly acutely toxic to adult honey bees.
Douglas Kirk1Flupyradifurone (“Sivanto”) is a new systemic, butenolide insecticide that is to be used on crops such as citrus, cotton, potatoes and many others, and also as seed treatment. Note: EPA is still considering soybean seed treatment. The chemical is a neurotoxic insecticide that can inhibit nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in the nervous system. Neonicotinoids, widely linked to devastating health impacts on bees, affect the nervous system in the same way. The EPA states that flupyradifurone differs from neonicotinoids because of the way it binds to the receptors and is metabolized. Most disturbing is that, based on EPA’s registration documents, the chemical is highly toxic to adult bees for short-term oral exposures.
Perhaps you are wondering why you should care about bees at all. They are just stinging jerks right? Nope…. plus do you think this stuff sounds good for us? Does is wind up in our ground water?
According to our friends at the EPA flupyradifurone went through a rigorous assessment review, given the elevated concerns surrounding bee decline and its link to pesticides. The EPA’s review raises more questions than answers on why this latest chemical with potential risks to bees is being registered. EPA’s registration document states, “While the acute oral toxicity study indicates that flupyradifurone is highly toxic to individual adult honey bees, longer-term laboratory-based studies of both larval and adult bees show no adverse effects up to the highest dietary concentration tested.” For bees that come into surface contact with the chemical, EPA states in one document that the chemical is “practically nontoxic to adult bees on an acute contact exposure basis.”
Here’s the thing though……..in another document it reports, “In the acute contact toxicity test, some bees showed movement coordination problems or lethargy at the two highest concentrations…” after a few hours of exposure. Despite this, EPA concludes that its review of submitted field studies “did not result in any adverse effect on overall colony performance or overwintering capacity..”
As a systemic pesticide, it is expected that flupyradifurone will be taken up by the plant and persist in all plant tissues, including pollen and nectar. EPA finds that while residues in pollen were higher than those in nectar, “residues declined in pollen and nectar within a two-week window following treatment.” This means that bees can expect to endure at least two full weeks of exposure to high levels of flupyradifurone residues on pollen and nectar.
Imagine if you were a bee. You wouldn’t like this either. Google the “butterfly effect” if you think this won’t effect you personally. Honey Bees are an integral part of Hashem’s design.
For adult bees that forage on this pollen and nectar, death is imminent as the agency has already found that flupyradifurone is highly acutely toxic from ingestion (oral exposures). To further compound this, EPA notes that the field studies reveal high death rates in adult bees within 24 hours of treatment. Note: It is also important to point out that EPA seemingly believes that it will be acceptable for bees to touch or tread on flupyradifurone residues, as long as they do not ingest it from pollen. This is certainly counterintuitive to natural bee behavior and anyone observing bees.
So why is EPA maintaining that this product is safer for bees? EPA believes flupyradifurone is less toxic than current insecticides on the market, including neonicotinoids. I appreciate the efforts of the EPA to reduce toxicity but in comparing toxicity values of flupyradifurone and imidacloprid, flupyradifurone is less toxic by the oral route (LD50 3.4ug/bee) than imidacloprid (LD50 0.004ug/bee).
While flupyradifurone is less toxic than imidacloprid and some other neonicotinoids, bees are still at risk from flupyradifurone. EPA believes that in spite of the acute oral toxicity, flupyradifurone has no measurable impact on bee colonies and that there is “compelling evidence that the compound is not having a pronounced effect on bees…” EPA states that in making its decision it considered 38 studies, all of which are most likely industry studies, to reach its conclusion. The agency also finds in its registration document that flupyradifurone is “less toxic” to mammals, birds and aquatic organisms (even though it is very toxic to freshwater invertebrates and crustaceans), compared with pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos and others. Flupyradifurone is very persistent with half-lives in soil ranging from 38-400 days.
To many, the earth is a living organism. I’m sure that the earth would rather not have Flupyradifurone in it ‘s soil. Mother Earth is probably already saying this but we can’t understand it’s cries.
Of concern is the agency’s failure to take into account the cumulative impact of flupyradifurone and neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and clothianidin on bees and other non-target insects in the environment.
Who is protecting the non target insects? They need their own EPA
Neonicotinoids, as well as a host of other insecticides are currently used as seed treatment and in other areas of agriculture and home and garden sites. Adding flupyradifurone to the chemical mix found in the environment will mean that bees and other non-target organisms will be exposed to mixtures of chemicals that have yet to be evaluated for their combined or synergistic effects, and possibly compounding the already dire plight of pollinators.
It was less than one year ago that EPA introduced to the market sulfoxaflor, another bee-toxic insecticide registered by EPA despite warnings from concerned groups and beekeepers. Beekeepers have since sued EPA over the registration of sulfoxaflor.
Why do all of these chemicals have yucky names? Chemicals always have scary names. It’s never something comprehensible like “papaya extract”
Given the global phenomenon of bee decline and the precautions taken in the European Union regarding bee health with its two-year suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides, advocates are calling it irresponsible for EPA to allow into the environment yet another chemical with a high hazard potential for bee health.
Who is protecting the Pollinators?
A recent government sponsored national survey indicates that U.S. beekeepers experienced a 45.2% annual mortality rate with their hives between April 2012 and March 2013. During the winter of 2013/14, two-thirds of beekeepers experienced loss rates greater than the established acceptable winter mortality rate. The EPA has a responsibility to bees, the environment and beekeepers in protecting bees and other pollinators from dangerous pesticides…..Duh!
I know that the EPA isn’t comprised of bee hating jerks. I feel that they don’t intentionally want to harm beekeepers.
So, come on EPA! Let’s work together towards going pesticide free. My prediction is that by 2037, the EPA will have figured out a way to go 85% – 100% organic.
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