The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal petition Tuesday calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better protect the nation’s waterways from insecticides.
The environmental advocacy group said neonicotinoid products have already been linked to the declining bee population and are now contaminating wetlands and bodies water, endangering aquatic ecosystems.
“EPA’s benchmarks for toxicity are far too permissive and fail to consider the long-term impacts that neonicotinoids have on ecosystems, including additive and synergistic effects with other stressors,” Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at CFS, said in a statement. “With strong and growing proof of such extensive contamination, EPA must take a much closer look at the cumulative impacts of these chemicals.”
CFS said the pesticides are applied to more than 150 million acres of crops annually and runoff flows, both above and below ground, far beyond the agricultural fields, gardens, trees, lawns and other areas where they are applied.
“This petition formally urges EPA to respond to this unrecognized threat to our waters, the toxic effects of which will harm entire food chains and ecosystems,” Peter Jenkins, a CFS attorney, said in a statement. “Evidence of extensive and high level neonicotinoid water contamination raises the alarm that we are approaching an ecological crisis – a second Silent Spring.”
In its petition, CFS recommends the EPA adopt lower, more rigorous, national aquatic contamination thresholds to avoid lasting effects on aquatic invertebrates like crustaceans and mollusks.
In addition, the group wants the agency to stop classifying neonicotinoids as “reduced risk” pesticides and fast-tracking their registrations.
CFS also is asking the EPA to apply the Clean Water Act to initiate remedial actions like restoration efforts for the Chesapeake Bay and other key bodies of water.