Neonicotinoids, or neonics, a newer type of insecticide which is related to nicotine are likely to affect endangered species according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report released on Thursday. The EPA began these reviews after a legal action filed in 2013 was resolved.
Specifically, the agency found that thiamethoxam would likely adversely affect 77% of endangered species, which is the most extreme designation for this stage, and might affect 88%, these species include birds, fish, and insects. Imidacloprid and clothianidin, other major neonics, had similar numbers. Additionally, they determined that 88% of species with a designated critical habitat are likely to have their habitats adversely affected by imidacloprid, 83% by thiamethoxam, and 53% by clothianidin.
A Center for Food Safety press release said that these reports follow a lawsuit where the court ruled that the EPA needed to do a further examination of the pesticides. It noted that the review came after the Center reached a settlement and received partial summary judgment in a case which required multiple products’ registrations to be cancelled.
“Today’s evaluations confirm what scientists have told EPA and industry for over a decade: These extremely toxic pesticides are causing drastic ecological harm, both the collapse of bee populations as well as putting literally hundreds of endangered species at extinction risk across the country,” said George Kimbrell, Legal Director of Center for Food Safety in the press release. “The Biden administration needs to complete its process with all due speed in order to start protecting these iconic species.”
The press release explained that neonics are, at this point, “the most widely used insecticides in the world,” and that, because they are applied throughout the season, the entire plant is toxic. The pesticides attack insects’ nervous systems and cause tremors, paralysis, and death even at low doses. The Center for Food Safety said multiple studies have shown these pesticides are a factor in the decline of bees.
The Center for Food Safety said that the EPA, under the settlement, will need to finalize the draft conclusions published today before June 2022 and that a public comment period will happen shortly.