Court allows seeds to continue to be sprayed with bee-toxic pesticides
01/14/2017 // Vicki Batts // Views

At the end of November, a judge from the Northern District of California delivered a crushing blow to our nation's beekeepers, and effectively approved of the EPA policies that will allow seeds to be coated with bee-toxic pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, or neonics for short. These pesticides, which can persist in soil and water with ease, are associated with killing bees indiscriminately, leading to a dramatic drop in pollinator populations and massive environmental damage. (RELATED: Stay informed on environmental news at

The judge ruled against the beekeepers and public interest advocates in their lawsuit -- which was seeking to protect bees, and the rest of the environment, from unregulated damages that may be caused by the Environmental Protection Agency’s rather sloppy policies regarding seeds that are coated with certain insecticides that are known to kill bees in large numbers.

Andrew Kimbrell, Director of the Center for Food Safety, said, "It is astounding that a judge, EPA or anyone with any common sense would not regulate this type of toxic pesticide use, especially when the seed-coatings are so broadly applied and there is so much at risk. Study after study has shown that seeds coated with these chemicals are a major culprit in catastrophic bee-kills. Now more than ever our country’s beekeepers, environment and food system deserve protection from agrichemical interests, and it is EPA’s job to deliver it."

Kimbrell's lamenting of the ruling is easily understandable; we know neonics are harmful pesticides and yet, our bureaucratic government is doing nothing to stop the damage.


Neonics have been linked to record all-time highs of colony deaths, water pollution, and are known to pose risks to other valuable species, like birds.

Earlier this year, the federal government itself released a report admitting that neonics are harmful and have been causing catastrophic bee deaths across the country. The findings were part of the first scientific risk assessment to conducted on this type of insecticide and their affect on bee populations. (Read more news about avoiding exposure to pesticides and other chemicals at

Indeed, the government's own report confirmed what many activists and beekeepers have been saying for years: neonics weaken, disorient and kill honeybees.

The analysis particularly highlighted the harmful nature of imidacloprid, showing that it clearly caused damage to beehives and honey production. The EPA itself confirmed that when bees are exposed to imidacloprid at concentrations of at least 25 parts per billion -- a pretty standard amount on crops -- they suffer grieviously.

“These effects include decreases in pollinators as well as less honey produced,” the EPA’s press release states.

The report on imidacloprid is very concerning -- but what is perhaps even more concerning is the fact that this report focused on just one, singular neonictonoid, when there are in fact several used nation-wide. It is not just one form of this insecticide that has been indicated as harmful -- it is the entire class of neonics that many have found to be problematic.

What is most concerning about seed coatings containing neonics is that they are not exactly regulated  well. The group of beekeepers who filed suit against the EPA did so for this exact reason. Seed coating is the most prolific form of neonic use -- and yet the EPA has never conducted safety testing on this use.  Toxic dust floats in the air every spring after corn is planted, thanks to neonic seed coatings, and it is this dust that is what is often most problematic.

Beekeeper Brett Adee lost more than 6,000 hives last spring during corn planting. A state investigation concluded that his bees were poisoned by a neonic that was used on the seeds his neighbors had planted. Mr. Adee is not the first beekeeper to lose his bees to insecticides, and he surely won't be the last -- given that the EPA has exempted seed coating from regulation.

When dismissing the case filed by beekeepers and advocates, the judge proclaimed, “The Court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers. Perhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make.”

What kind of country are we living in? (Related: See more examples of stupid government policies at


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