- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) - A federal lawsuit that’s led by a central Minnesota beekeeper is seeking to make the Environmental Protection Agency label insecticide-coated seeds as a pesticide.

The change sought by the lawsuit would curb use of neonicotinoid pesticides that beekeepers say are inadvertently killing their colonies, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1PKZcs4 ) reported. Neonicotinoids are widely used on soybean and corn seeds, but the use isn’t included in pesticide regulations.

Beekeeper Jeff Anderson is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Wednesday. He said dust that’s kicked up when the seeds are planted drifts onto hives and kills bees.

Anderson said state or federal regulators can’t protect his bees because the EPA says the seeds coated by insecticide are exempt from pesticide labels. The labels include information on EPA restrictions and requirements for safe application.

“In order for state regulators to be able to take action there has to be a label and then a violation of the label,” he said. “If there was a label then it would give our regulators the ability to take corrective action when that actually occurs.”

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include environmental advocacy group Center for Food Safety, beekeepers in South Dakota and Pennsylvania, and farmers from Kansas an Pennsylvania.

Center for Food Safety attorney Peter Jenkins said neonicotinoid insecticides sprayed on fields are regulated and labeled with restrictions, but neonicotinoid-coated seeds aren’t considered a pesticide use and are therefore exempt from use rules. He believes this exemption has led to an overuse of insecticide-treated seeds.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency doesn’t typically comment on pending litigation.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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