Beekeepers sue EPA over controversial pesticide authorization

Beekeepers sue EPA over controversial pesticide authorization
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An environmental group representing leaders in the beekeeping industry has filed a lawsuit contesting the Trump administration's rollback of pesticide restrictions, citing major risks to honeybee hives.

The lawsuit, filed last week by Earthjustice, accuses the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of reauthorizing the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor against the concerns of beekeepers who warn that the chemical can seriously harm or even destroy entire beehives.

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“Honeybees and other pollinators are dying in droves because of insecticides like sulfoxaflor, yet the Trump administration removes restrictions just to please the chemical industry,” Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement last week.

"This is illegal and an affront to our food system, economy, and environment," he continued.

When it comes into contact with bees, sulfoxaflor can be toxic in some doses while also carrying the possibility of transferring to the entire hive, weakening the bees and lowering the possibility of breeding as well as the hive's survival chances over winter, according to Earthjustice.

Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, one of the groups represented by Earthjustice in the lawsuit, accused the EPA in a statement of relying solely on industry-funded studies to justify the chemical's use. 

“It is inappropriate for EPA to solely rely on industry studies to justify bringing sulfoxaflor back into our farm fields,” she said. “Die-offs of tens of thousands of bee colonies continue to occur and sulfoxaflor plays a huge role in this problem. EPA is harming not just the beekeepers, their livelihood, and bees, but the nation’s food system.”

A spokesperson for the EPA did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on the lawsuit Thursday.