EPA finds little benefit to pesticide linked to bee declines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that it found little to no benefit to using neonicotinoid pesticides to keep soybeans free of insects.

The Thursday report is a key part of the EPA’s review of whether it should restrict the use of neonicotinoids, which biologists argue harm bees and reduce their populations.

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According to the EPA’s analysis, neonicotinoid treatments on seeds result in little to no increase in soybean yields.

“We have made the review of neonicotinoid pesticides a high priority,” Jim Jones, head of the EPA’s chemical safety office, said in a statement. “In our analysis of the economic benefits of this use we concluded that, on a national scale, U.S. soybean farmers see little or no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments.” 

The research is required as part of the EPA’s certification process

The analysis of scientific studies further found that alternative insecticides are available and can be effective when used as sprays, at a comparable cost.

Neonicotinoids could be beneficial against sporadic and unpredictable pests, but the benefit is unlike to be large or widespread, officials said.