In an unexpected move, EPA last week issued new pesticide label language that will prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products (imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) where bees are present.

In May, USDA and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health, showing scientific consensus that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites/disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

In a letter to the relevant pesticide manufacturers, EPA stated, “It is essential that these label statements are immediately implemented on the labeling of eligible products. If you do not address the labeling changes described in this letter, EPA will take appropriate action … If these changes are made in the expedited fashion described in this letter, we anticipate labels with the new language will be available for the ’14 use season.” The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions.

The proposed label language affecting cotton would read: For food crops and commercially grown ornamentals not under contract for pollination services but are attractive to pollinators. Do not apply this product while bees are foraging. Do not apply this product until flowering is complete and all petals have fallen unless one of the following conditions is met:

• The application is made to the target site after sunset

• The application is made to the target site when temperatures are below 55˚F

• The application is made in accordance with a government-initiated public health response

• The application is made in accordance with an active state-administered apiary registry program where beekeepers are notified no less than 48-hours prior to the time of the planned application so that the bees can be removed, covered or otherwise protected prior to spraying

• The application is made due to an imminent threat of significant crop loss, and a documented determination consistent with an IPM plan or predetermined economic threshold is met. Every effort should be made to notify beekeepers no less than 48-hours prior to the time of the planned application so that the bees can be removed, covered or otherwise protected prior to spraying.

 

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