Written by Christina Sarich, Natural Society, July 28, 2014
Due in part to a petition submitted by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one government agency has come to its senses, agreeing to eliminate bee and butterfly-toxic neonicotinoids in the Pacific Region of the NW Wildlife Refuges.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) very quietly announced that it will phase out neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) in wildlife refuges in the Pacific Region, including Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Within the new policy, all refuge managers will be asked to exhaust all alternatives before allowing the use of neonics within the lands of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This will be the first US government agency to actually move toward a complete ban that is needed to protect our pollinating insects and birds from possible extinction due to pesticide use.
This monumental step has happened due to a February, 2014 petition filed by CFS asking FWS to ban the use of neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges. (You can see more than 10 other wildlife refuges on the FWS site, here.) The remaining sites will still be unprotected from neonic use. This is; however, a step which could be built upon itself.
Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety states:
“FWS has taken a responsible and necessary first step in the Pacific region, but the agency must permanently institute this policy on all refuge lands across the country. As our legal challenges have repeatedly stated, the costs of these chemicals severely outweigh the benefits; we must eliminate their use immediately.”
The FWS admits to “broad-spectrum adverse effects” of using neonicotinoids, and found the practice at odds with FWS’s policy of Integrated Pest Management (IMP). A study released by CFS earlier this year found that neonicotinoid seeds treatment rarely improved yields for corn and soybeans, corroborating the findings of FWS. Perhaps they can submit their findings to the US Agricultural Department for their review.
The phase out of neonics is to occur by 2016, and refuge managers will have to have an approved Pesticide Use Proposals (PUP) and completed Endangered Species Act consultation documentation before using neonicotinoid pesticides, including the planting of neonicotinoid-treated seed to grow agricultural crops. This is far from a complete ban, but again, a step in the right direction.