EPA recently published online a proposal, jointly developed with the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, outlining a quantitative approach to determining a pesticide's potential hazard to bees.

With Colony Collapse Disorder continuing to be an unsolved problem and with pressure from some beekeepers and environmental groups, EPA has increased its scrutiny of pesticide use in cotton regarding impact on honey bees. The cotton plant is indeterminate, i.e., it flowers throughout the growing season and also has additional nectaries outside the flowers, making the assessment of risk to bees more complex.

The proposal, “The White Paper in Support of the Proposed Risk Assessment Process for Bees,” identifies three protection goals: protection of pollination services, protection of honey and hive product production, and protection of pollinator biodiversity. It targets colony survival, growth and reproduction as primary assessment endpoints.

The proposed methodology would involve a tiered risk assessment approach. Relatively conservative estimates during the initial screening would determine if further assessments are needed. The more advanced level of review, identified as Tier II and Tier III tests, will make use of colony-level studies, including tests conducted under field conditions and measured values that are more reflective of actual pesticide use.

EPA has asked the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel to review the proposal at a Sept. 11-14 meeting. More information on this topic is at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2012-0543.