Crop-Life's Jay Vroom responds to clothianidin flap & Colony Collapse Disorder

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Washington, Jan. 5 - Responding to calls for the removal of clothianidin pesticides from the market after internal EPA memos suggest a tie between the pest killer and losses in honey bee populations, the head of the nation's principle agricultural crop protection trade organization says “research so far suggests no one single source of the [bee losses] problem has been found, nor is it likely that one source will be identified.”

Still, CropLife America President and CEO Jay Vroom told Agri-Pulse Tuesday, “exposures to crop protection products are being reviewed as this research goes forward and our industry fully supports such investigation.”

“All the crop protection products approved by EPA for use are evaluated for a wide range of environmental risks, and the labels approved by the government are designed to ensure that the products are used safely,” Vroom said. Nonetheless, he adds, “the mystery of an apparently expanding bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) problem in some key agricultural areas around the world - notably the U.S. and EU - has governments working to find the causes of this problem and solutions.”

EPA says CCD began during the winter of 2006-2007 when some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of anywhere from 30% to 90% percent of their hives. As many as half of all the affected colonies reported the sudden loss of a colony's worker bee population with very few dead bees found near the colony   symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honeybee death. Speculation has arisen over a variety of causes for CCD, ranging from mites to disease to changes in habitat to pesticides. Clothianinin is the latest pesticide that has gained public attention as a possible cause of CCD.

An annual update on CCD released by USDA last week for 2010 says that research “findings currently suggest an association of sub-lethal effects of pesticides with CCD. . . The emerging evidence of pesticide exposure to pollinators and potential interactive effects indicates the need to further study pesticides for their potential interactions with CCD.” The report adds that although the cause of CCD is still unknown, “research has provided support to the hypothesis that CCD may be a syndrome caused by many different factors that work individually or in combination. Looking ahead, studies will focus increasingly on the interaction of multiple factors in causing CCD.” To read USDA's 43-page CCD report, go to: www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd/ccdprogressreport2010.pdf

Vroom said clothianidin “is but one of many of our industry products being reviewed.” He said that any science-based risk mitigations that may evolve for the added protection of bees will have negative economic and operating impacts on farmers. However, he also said the situation is a “reminder of how vital the continued discovery research of our member companies is - to guarantee that new modes of action products are found and commercialized, along with research to improve safety of existing products.”

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