Oregon Lawmakers Call on EPA to Protect Pollinators from Toxic Pesticide

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici today expressed concerns over the recent decision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve new uses and lift restrictions for sulfoxaflor, a pesticide recognized by the EPA as a danger to pollinators.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the lawmakers highlighted concerns from beekeepers and other stakeholders in Oregon about the potential hazards of the pesticide on bee colonies and the importance of pollinator health to America’s agriculture and food supply. The EPA decision to continue the use of sulfoxaflor comes as the annual loss rate for honeybees rose to 40.7% this year, up from the previous average of 38.7%, according to the Washington Post.

“These new approved uses come at a time when colonies are dying at alarming rates,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is particularly concerning, given that pollinators are an invaluable component of our nation’s food production. In Oregon alone, specialty crops like blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, and pears depend upon bees and other pollinators.”

The lawmakers requested that the EPA provide answers to the following questions by October 9:

  • Prior to the recent decision to lift restricted uses for sulfoxaflor, what scientific data did the EPA use in determining whether an emergency exemption should be allowed?
  • EPA’s sulfoxaflor webpage states that a comprehensive risk assessment was conducted on the long-term effects of sulfoxaflor on bees. Please provide:
    • The comprehensive risk assessment;
    • A detailed summary of the comprehensive risk assessment;
    • The pollinator risk assessment; and
    • A detailed summary of the pollinator risk assessment.
    • For all uses of sulfoxaflor, is the EPA studying sulfoxaflor’s impacts on pollinators?

“The EPA has a crucial role to play in safeguarding American agriculture. We ask that you provide the above scientific data, reinstate appropriate regulations on sulfoxaflor, and reverse the trend of issuing emergency exemptions,” the lawmakers concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

A web version of this release is available here.