PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


New Zealand Native Bees Are Under Threat From The Toxic Pesticide Thiamethoxam


A hearing on the use of Actara, a highly toxic neo-nicotinoid pesticide now banned in the EU, will be held on Thursday 30 March by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [1]

A reassessment was applied for by The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) which is seeking approval to increase the use of the product Actara (active ingredient - thiamethoxam) to allow its use as an emergency biosecurity response against the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
If approved. the proposal will be ground-based eradication and targeted aerial spraying, at the highest application rate and highest application frequency. [2] This is a direct threat to native bees, and increase the exposure of beneficial insects to toxic pesticides.

“New Zealand has many threatened native species and MPI indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides is contributing to the speed of the decline, ” said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free New Zealand “One of the most concerning things is the threat to native bees.”

MPI has applied for:
• An increase of the maximum number of applications of Actara (within any one target plot area) from four to 19 applications per year.
• An exemption on the prohibition that would allow Actara to be used where bees are foraging or on plants that are in flower or likely to flower.

MPI is also applying to rotate the spray programme use in conjunction with another neonicotinoid - dinotefuran, as yet unapproved, and with the synthetic pyrethrum based bifenthrin.
This would mean that the actual use of toxic persistent neonicotinoids would be compounded.

"There is a long term threat from the off label overuse of the three pesticides will have severe toxic effects on aquatic organisms waterways, the environment, and human health, " said Bleakley.

"Actara is a systemic, persistent pesticide and is a known endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin. Thiamethoxam has a high toxicity for pollinators, bees and bumblebees and it is linked to bee colony collapse". [3]

There is a big threat to endangered native bees who nest in the ground and are the main pollinators of Aotearoa/New Zealand indigenous plants. GE Free New Zealand have asked that Dr Ngaire Hart to talk to the EPA about the threat to native bees. [4]

[1] EPA documents https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/APP204312
[2] Staff Report https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/APP204312/APP204312-Staff-Report.pdf
[3] A common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, alters honey bee activity, motor functions, and movement to light. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15308-6
[4] Dr Ngaire Hart Case Study in Whangarei on native bees https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/APP204312/SUBMISSION128023-APP204312-Industrious-Native-Bees-A-Case-Study-in-Whangarei.pdf

ENDS: Contact -
Claire Bleakley, president 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet - spokesman 0210507681

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