Mysterious Honey Bee Disorder Buzzes into Court

WASHINGTON, DC, August 19, 2008 (ENS) – The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Washington DC to force the federal government to disclose studies on the effect of a new pesticide on honey bees.

Studies on the pesticide, clothianidin, were ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from the pesticide’s manufacturer, Bayer CropScience, in 2003 when the federal agency granted the company a registration for the chemical.

An NRDC bee researcher and the organization’s attorneys believe that the EPA has evidence of connections between pesticides and the mysterious honey bee die-offs reported across the country called “colony collapse disorder,” or CCD, that it has not made public.

The connection is important because commercial honey bees pollinate about 90 of the country’s crops, valued at $15 billion. Apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, berries, peppers, squash, soybeans, almonds, cashews, and sunflowers all require or benefit from honey bee pollination.

The EPA has failed to respond to the NRDC’s Freedom of Information Act request for agency records concerning the toxicity of pesticides to bees, prompting Monday’s legal action.

“Recently approved pesticides have been implicated in massive bee die-offs and are the focus of increasing scientific scrutiny,” said NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo. “EPA should be evaluating the risks to bees before approving new pesticides, but now refuses to tell the public what it knows.”

“Pesticide restrictions might be at the heart of the solution to this growing crisis, so why hide the information they should be using to make those decisions?” Calangelo asked.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-19-092.asp