Oregon Democrats Challenge EPA on Pesticide Decision Dangerous to Pollinators

Most of Oregon’s congressional leaders have some questions for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler – and have joined in letter looking for answers.

At core, the question comes down to this: The EPA’s own findings acknowledge the pesticide sulfoxaflor, is dangerous to pollinators, like honeybees – so why would the agency lift restrictions on the poison, and approve it for new uses?

Pollinator Hives are Collapsing

The lawmakers expressed concerns about the potential hazards of the pesticide on bee colonies and the importance of pollinator health to America’s agriculture and food supply. According to Washington Post, the annual loss rate for honeybees rose to 40.7 percent this year, up from the previous average of 38.7 percent; numbers already alarming to experts.

More About the Letter

Joined in signing the letter were Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici – all Democrats.

“These new approved uses come at a time when colonies are dying at alarming rates,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is particularly concerning, given that pollinators are an invaluable component of our nation’s food production. In Oregon alone, specialty crops like blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, and pears depend upon bees and other pollinators.”

The lawmakers requested a response from the EPA by October 9, and their specific questions were:

  • Prior to the recent decision to lift restricted uses for sulfoxaflor, what scientific data did the EPA use in determining whether an emergency exemption should be allowed?
  • EPA’s sulfoxaflor webpage states that a comprehensive risk assessment was conducted on the long-term effects of sulfoxaflor on bees. Please provide:
    • The comprehensive risk assessment;
    • A detailed summary of the comprehensive risk assessment;
    • The pollinator risk assessment; and
    • A detailed summary of the pollinator risk assessment.
    • For all uses of sulfoxaflor, is the EPA studying sulfoxaflor’s impacts on pollinators?

The letter concluded,  “The EPA has a crucial role to play in safeguarding American agriculture. We ask that you provide the above scientific data, reinstate appropriate regulations on sulfoxaflor, and reverse the trend of issuing emergency exemptions.”


By Andy Thompson