A victory for bees.


The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has cancelled the approval for the Dow Agrosciences chemical Sulfoxaflor, a neonicotinoid, as it is highly toxic to bees. [1] The ruling said “the federal regulators erred in allowing the insecticide onto the market.” [2]

Many seeds for crops are sprayed or coated with the neonicotinoid insecticide, these have a persistent systemic toxic effect over the life time of the plant and are found in the pollen, flesh and honey sourced from the crops [3].

Genetically engineered (GE) corn seeds are routinely coated with neonicotinoids. These GE seeds and are sourced to make high fructose corn syrup which is increasingly being used to feed bees over winter. [4]

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the importation and manufacture of the Sulfoxaflor neonicotinoid in 2013. [5] The EPA committee decision said that they would have negligible adverse effects for human health and to the environment and there will be benefits associated with its release”.

“New Zealand has had a massive die off of bees this year and it could be linked to pesticides such as Sulfoxaflor” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ. “We call on the EPA to follow the US directive and immediately remove all Sulfoxaflor neonicotinoids from use and cancel their registration”.

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA 2011) which set up the NZ EPA from the earlier Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) requires it to consider “international obligations” which over ride its environmental responsibilities. This week submissions closed on an amendment to the EPA Act that requires the authority to maintain, protect and enhance the environment.


[1] Opinion No.13-72346 http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2015/09/10/13-72346.pdf

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/11/business/energy-environment/big-win-for-beekeepers-as-court-voids-insecticide.html?_r=0

[3] Chen M., Tao L., McLean J amd Lu C. Quantitative Analysis of Neonicotinoid Insecticide Residues in Foods: Implication for Dietary Exposures J. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62 (26), pp 6082–6090 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf501397m

[4] Mao W., Schuler M., and Berenbaum M. Honey constituents up-regulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera PNAS 2013 110 (22) 8842-8846 http://www.pnas.org/content/110/22/8842.full.pdf

[5] http://www.epa.govt.nz/search-databases/HSNO%20Application%20Register%20Documents/ERMA200886_ERMA200886_decision.pdf

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731
Jon Muller 0274794195

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