'The Environmental Protection Agency announced so-called “emergency” approvals today to spray sulfoxaflor — an insecticide it considers “very highly toxic” to bees — on nearly 14 million acres of crops known to attract bees.
The approval includes 2019 crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years.
“The only emergency here is the Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this dangerous bee-killing pesticide,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s sickening that even amid the current insect apocalypse, the EPA’s priority is protecting pesticide industry profits.”
The approvals include 5.8 million acres in Texas, which is home to more than 800 species of native bees. Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees, including the rare American bumblebee and variable cuckoo bumblebee, live in Texas counties where cotton or sorghum are grown.
The EPA may approve temporary emergency uses of pesticides, including unapproved pesticides, if it determines they are needed to prevent the spread of an unexpected outbreak of insects.
But the agency has routinely abused this authority, as chronicled in the Center’s report, Poisonous Process: How the EPA’s Chronic Misuse of ‘Emergency’ Pesticide Exemptions Increases Risks to Wildlife. The report found that the alleged “emergencies” cited are foreseeable occurrences.
Last year the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report finding that the agency’s practice of routinely granting “emergency” approval for pesticides across millions of acres does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment.'
Read more: Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres