EPA Releases Preliminary Risk Assessment For Imidacloprid

bumble bee free imageEPA has announced a preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, which it says shows a threat to some pollinators. EPA’s assessment, prepared in collaboration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, indicates that imidacloprid potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.

“Delivering on the President’s National Pollinator Strategy means EPA is committed not only to protecting bees and reversing bee loss, but for the first time assessing the health of the colony for the neonicotinoid pesticides,” says Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Using science as our guide, this preliminary assessment reflects our collaboration with the State of California and Canada to assess the results of the most recent testing required by EPA.”

The preliminary risk assessment identified a residue level for imidacloprid of 25 parts per billion, which sets a threshold above which effects on pollinator hives are likely to be seen, and at that level and below which effects are unlikely. These effects include decreases in pollinators, as well as less honey produced.

The imidacloprid assessment is the first of four preliminary pollinator risk assessments for the neonicotinoid insecticides. Preliminary pollinator risk assessments for three other neonicotinoids, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, are scheduled to be released for public comment in December 2016.

A preliminary risk assessment of all ecological effects for imidacloprid, including a revised pollinator assessment and impacts on other species such as aquatic and terrestrial animals and plants, will also be released in December 2016.

In addition to working with California, EPA coordinated efforts with Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Canada’s imidacloprid pollinator-only assessment reaches the same preliminary conclusions as EPA’s report.

The 60-day public comment period will begin upon publication in the Federal Register. After the comment period ends, EPA may revise the pollinator assessment based on comments received and, if necessary, take action to reduce risks from the insecticide.

EPA encourages stakeholders and interested members of the public to visit the imidacloprid docket and sign up for email alerts to be automatically notified when the agency opens the public comment period for the pollinator-only risk assessment.

EPA is also planning to hold a webinar on the imidacloprid assessment in early February.

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