Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In Wake of Massive Bee Kills, Oregon Temporarily Bans Some Pesticide Uses

Bees and other insects can breathe a little easier in Oregon -- for now. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has temporarily banned the use of dinotefuran pesticides responsible for the recent bumbleocalypse in Wilsonville, OR and another massive bee die-off in Hillsboro, OR.

For the next six months, it will be illegal in Oregon to spray Safari or other pesticides containing dinotefuran neonicotinoids. Oregon’s ban comes after more than 50,000 bumblebees and other pollinators were killed when Safari was sprayed over blooming linden trees to control insect plagues in a Target parking lot.

Environmental advocates sued the EPA earlier this year "for its failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides," particularly neonicotinoids.

ODA Director Katy Coba said in a statement that she has directed the ban to help prevent further such “bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed. Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered.”

Somewhat contradictory if you ask us, despite the fact that it will be illegal for landscapers and gardeners to use these pesticides, retailers will still be allowed to sell the products. From The Oregonian:

“We’re not trying to get it off the shelves, or trying to tell people to dispose of it, we’re just telling people not to use it,” said Bruce Pokarney, an ODA spokesperson.

While Pokarney acknowledged it would be difficult to cite individual homeowners, he said licensed pesticide applicators would be violating Oregon regulations if they use dinotefuran-based insecticides on plants in the next 180 days.

The temporary ban only affects pesticide use that might harm pollinators, like bumblebees. Dinotefuran use in flea collars and ant and roach control will still be allowed.

Guess who thinks the ban is not such a good idea?

“We do not believe the scope of these measures is necessary with the information available,” Safari manufacturer Valent said in a statement, “and we will work to get the restrictions lifted as soon as possible.”

At BeeAlive, we think the temporary ban is a step in the right direction. However, we feel a prudent course of action requires sales of the pesticides to be completely suspended until the ban is lifted to prevent uninformed consumers from unknowingly violating the law. At the bare minimum, all products on the shelf should be clearly marked about the restriction on their use.

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