A pesticide approved eight years ago by the EPA may be killing off bees. They’ve been ordered to take a closer look, at last.
Cyantraniliprole (CTP), a pesticide meant to protect agricultural crops from insect depredation, was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. At the time, it was classified as “slightly to moderately toxic to freshwater fish; slightly toxic to estuarine/marine fish; slightly to very highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates; moderately to highly toxic to estuarine/marine invertebrates, highly toxic to benthic invertebrates [worms]; highly to very highly toxic to terrestrial insects” from acute exposures. The EPA’s risk assessment survey also found that CTP has a long half-life: it takes over three and a half years for half the concentration to leave the soil where it’s applied.
According to a lawsuit filed by several major conservation agencies, the EPA did not do its due diligence before filing an approval for CTP. The Endangered Species Act requires to the EPA to study the long-term effects and consult with experts before registering any pesticide. The disaster of DDT, which interfered with the reproductive cycles of predatory birds and almost caused the extinction of raptors in North America, is a cautionary tale about why.
“Even after finding that cyantraniliprole is ‘highly or very highly toxic’ to hundreds of endangered species the agency authorized widespread uses of it in both agricultural and urban areas without measures to safeguard protected species,” the plaintiff organizations noted Tuesday in a press release. The groups, which include the Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity, estimate that around 1,300 species under federal protection could be vulnerable to the pesticide.
In 2017, in court in an earlier lawsuit, the EPA admitted they hadn’t done sufficient review of the pesticide. On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the EPA has until 2023 to amend that, specifically looking at the pesticide’s impact on endangered species.