Was the Colony Collapse Disorder not enough? Now there’s a new threat for bees: sulfoxaflor. The Environmental Protection Agency is approving this chemical pesticide for the first time for certain crops, according to the Guardian.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency tried to approve the chemical for use but was halted by a federal court of appeals. At the time, the courts denied the approval because of the bee population crisis and the dearth of data surrounding sulfoxaflor’s effect on bees, according to Mother Jones. In 2016, the Obama Administration banned its use, noting that bees and other pollinators contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy. Now, the Trump White House is bringing it back.
That’s concerning, because bees are still dying.
In recent years there has been an effort to respond to worldwide dwindling bee populations by banning the use of especially toxic pesticides. Last year, the European Union banned neonicotinoid pesticides, which are known to be harmful to bee populations. Under the Trump administration the U.S. has had less consideration for the bee. However, earlier this year, thanks to a legal settlement with environmental groups, the EPA agreed to cancel registration for 12 types of neonicotinoids.
Because of these changes, agrochemical companies have been looking for new formulas they can pitch as less harmful to bee populations. An official at the EPA told the Guardian, “Sulfoxaflor disappears from the environment more quickly than widely-used registered alternatives, thereby lowering risks to bees.” However, a 2018 study in the journal Nature indicated that sulfoxaflor still impacts the ability of the bumblebee to reproduce.
Some worry that a lack of chemical pesticides will impact crop yields. I would hazard that there are other solutions out there. Moreover, there will be no crops to yield if there are no bees to pollinate them.