The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted emergency approval for the use of the neonicotinoid pesticide dinotefuran to control brown marmorated stink bugs in seven eastern states. Dinotefuran is a member of the neonicotinoid family of systemic pesticides that is known to be highly toxic to bees and associated with Colony Collapse Disorder. The states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia had previously asked EPA for emergency approval of the pesticide due to a ballooning stink bug population. The short term emergency measure became effective June 24 and will expire on October 15 of this year.
Neonicotinoids, including dinotefuran, are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and gutation droplets from which pollinators such as bees then forage and drink. Neonicotinoids kill sucking and chewing insects by disrupting their nervous systems. Beginning in the late 1990s, these systemic insecticides began to take over the seed treatment market. Clothianidin and imidacloprid are two of the most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides. Both are known to be toxic to insect pollinators, and are lead suspects as causal factors in honey bee colony collapse disorder.
The brown marmorated stink bug is a non-native species thought to have been accidentally introduced to North America from Asia in the 1990s. The pests were first identified in Allentown, PA and have since spread rapidly throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Because they are not native to this continent, they have no natural predators or ecological checks on population here, allowing their numbers to skyrocket.
The question I ask is this: Why would the EPA approve the use of a known toxin that is directly one of the major causes of Colony Collapse Disorder? Honeybees don’t just make honey, they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Honeybees pollinate apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons. In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
So I guess the EPA is justified in killing more of our precious honey bees which are vital to our food chain in order to control brown marmorated stink bugs. Yes indeed, another bonehead move by the EPA!