Beekeepers worried as EPA loosens rules on powerful bug-killer

Bill Grady
July 18, 2019 - 7:01 am

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A ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency that allows the expanded use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor could have a harmful effect on honeybees, activists worry. 

The EPA last week dropped restrictions on sulfoxaflor for about 190 million acres of farmland in the U.S. Beekeepers and other sued the EPA after it approved the insecticide in 2013. 

Farmers like the idea and environmentalists say it is a bad move, because the pesticide can be especially toxic to honeybees.

The federal government is not looking at the big picture, said Jeff Maddox, a professional beekeeper in Springfield, Missouri.

"Worrying about the current environmental regulations and the decline of the environment is what we should all be really concerned about," Maddox said. "Honeybees are just the beacon everybody's looking at."

Other native pollinators, which include everything from butterflies to bats, will be at greater risk with the EPA ruling, Maddox said. 

Honeybees are considered the most effective crop-supporters because entire colonies can be moved to pollinate a wide variety of plants.

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