So there’s this insecticide called clothianidin that seems likely to be implicated in colony collapse disorder. By the EPA’s own reckoning [PDF], clothianidin “has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honeybees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen.” Over in Germany, the introduction of clothianidin coincided with a sudden bee die-off, so German authorities recently banned it. They reckoned that giving clothianidin a rest would provide researchers time to look deeper into it without further endangering bees. (France did the same thing with a related pesticide.)
Our own EPA must be preparing to do something similar, right? Well, no. That’s not how our EPA works. Rather than banning clothianidin, EPA bureaucrats have busied themselves hiding information about clothianidin.
This, even though, according to NRDC, there’s a “a growing consensus among bee specialists that pesticides, including clothianidin and its chemical cousins, may contribute” to colony collapse disorder.
Frustrated by this intransigence in light of ongoing colony collapse, the NRDC has resorted to suing the EPA to force the agency to release the info.
According to NRDC, the EPA registered clothianidin for widespread use back in 2003, under the condition that its maker, German agrichemical giant Bayer CropScience, “submit studies about its product’s impact on bees.”
But the EPA now refuses to say even whether Bayer has submitted such studies — much less what said studies might indicate. NRDC first tried to pry that info out of the agency using an open-records request. The agency brazenly refused to respond, and now NRDC has filed suit.
Here’s my favorite part. A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle called up the EPA to ask about the clothianidin-related documents. Here was the response:
An EPA spokesman, Dale Kemery, said the agency couldn’t comment on the documents required under the conditional registration because the matter is the subject of litigation.
Right. But if the EPA had responded to NRDC’s original polite requests, the matter wouldn’t be “the subject of litigation.” What will those wacky kids think of next?
Meanwhile, another one of my favorite agencies, the USDA, hasn’t exactly distinguished itself as a defender of the besieged honeybee. Here is NRDC:
In recent Congressional hearings, USDA was unable to account for the $20 million that Congress has allocated to the department for fighting [colony collapse disorder] in the last two years.