California Citrus Mutal (CCM) President Joel Nelsen quickly disputed the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding a certain pesticide and its threat to bees.
On January 6. the U.S. EPA announced the first of four preliminary risk assessments for insecticides potentially harmful to bees, specifically neonicotinoids.
In the assessment, the EPA states that citrus may have residues of pesticides in pollen and nectar above the threshold level.
“This statement is not only misleading, it is outright deceptive,” said Nelsen. The premise that neonicotinoids are a major contributor to the decline in bee populations or colony collapse is false. The National Academy of Sciences states there are several causes.
“Citrus does not require bees to produce a crop,” added Nelsen. “Our industry has a long history of working with the bee industry and participated in developing stringent regulations protective of bees that allow our two non-compatible industries to co-exist.”
The citrus industry is in danger of being wiped out by the incurable disease, Huanglongbing that is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, which can only be controlled by timely pesticide applications.
“We empathize with beekeepers dealing with colony collapse,” continues Nelsen. “But, neonicotinoids are a vital tool in the battle to save the citrus industry. “
CCM participates as a member of the Pollinator Protection Work Group of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, a broadly representative federal advisory committee that meets with EPA on a regular basis to discuss pesticide regulatory, policy, and program implementation issues.
According to the Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health from the National Honey Bee Health Stakeholder Conference Steering Committee (Oct. 15-17, 2010), sponsored by USDA and US EPA, there is a complex set of stressors and pathogens associated with colony collapse.
Seven are identified in the report. Six of the seven are certain contributors: bee pests, pathogens, nutrition, bee biology, genetics, and breeding. The seventh stressor identified is potential pesticide effects, which the working group determined needed more research.
Even though pesticides are listed only as a potential stressor, pesticides have been unfairly elevated to celebrity status by anti-pesticide zealots.
CCM encourages EPA to continue regulating pesticides and other crop production tools based on sound, replicated science and not to be swayed by unsubstantiated emotional hyperbole.