In June of 2012 beekeepers learned that a Section 18 had been granted by the EPA for use of a product called sulfoxaflor on cotton. A Section 18 allows the use of an unregistered product. This came as a complete surprise to leading beekeepers, who had been meeting with the EPA regularly in Washington but were apparently intentionally kept in the dark. This is an interview I did on the sulfoxaflor issue for The Organic View Radio Show in July. While it drags a bit in places I think it lays the groundwork for the discussions to come.
As expected, sulfoxaflor has surfaced again. The EPA has announced the opening of the comment period on sulfoxaflor and they appear to have every intention of registering this product. They have apparently learned nothing from the experience with clothianidin, or perhaps they have, and that is that they have no obligation to honor the law, will not be held accountable by Congress or anyone else, that they are merely a marketing arm of big ag and the chemical industry, and that they had better just get in line and dance for that master if they hope to hold their jobs. Read the announcemet closely. The second paragraph (below) could have been written by the chemical lobby and may very well have been.
TThe EPA is seeking comment on its proposed decision to conditionally register the new active ingredient sulfoxaflor, formulated as a technical product and two end-use products for use in production agriculture. The proposed use sites are barley, bulb vegetables, canola, citrus, cotton, cucurbit vegetables, fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables, low growing berry, okra, ornamentals (herbaceous and woody), pistachio, pome fruits, root and tuber vegetables, small fruit vine climbing (except fuzzy kiwifruit), soybean, stone fruit, succulent, edible podded and dry beans, tree nuts, triticale, turfgrass, watercress and wheat.
The agency finds this decision to be in the public interest because the registration of this pesticide for use on these crops will provide growers with a new pest management tool to kill a broad spectrum of piercing/sucking insects, including species that are difficult to control. For example, the agency granted a Section 18 Emergency Exemption in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana for use of unregistered sulfoxaflor on cotton to control the tarnished plant bug, an insect that has developed resistance to alternative registered pesticides. Sulfoxaflor is also a valuable new tool for managing the development of pesticide resistance.
The EPA’s proposed decision document and supporting documents will be posted at www.regulations.gov under EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0889 for a 30-day public comment period.
There is only one word in the EPA’s title which has any remaining validity, “agency,” but they are not agents of the people. There is no consideration of the environmental consequences of their decisions and the only protection is the protection of the pesticide companies and big ag.
They propose to repeat the experience with clothianidin, which is to release this product to the market under a conditional registration with many serious questions unanswered and do the testing in the field, at the expense of beekeepers and the larger environment. If this doesn’t stop right here and the EPA is held to account, we face many more years chasing this chemical and enduring the damages it is sure to inflict.