Federal Judge Bans Bayer Pesticide Threatening Honey Bees

Procedural issues lead to ban of Bayer pesticide
By Rick Wills
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
January 1, 2010

A federal judge banned the sale of a Bayer CropScience pesticide that environmental groups and commercial beekeepers say is potentially toxic to the nation’s threatened honeybee population.

Both Bayer CropScience, a North Carolina subsidiary of Bayer AG, and the Environmental Protection Agency have 60 days to appeal the decision of Manhattan U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.

The ban would make the sale of spirotetramat, known by the trade names Movento and Ultor, illegal in the United States after Jan. 15.

Cote’s decision does not explicitly address the inconclusive impact the pesticide might have on honeybees. Instead, she faulted the EPA for ignoring steps required in any pesticide approval process, including failing to take public comment and failing to publish Bayer’s application and the agency’s approval in the Federal Register.

“The EPA utterly failed to comply with these procedural requirements and has offered no explanation whatsoever for these shortcomings,” Cote wrote.

Bayer CropScience said it is disappointed with the court’s decision, which it said is based on the EPA’s procedural error. The company is “considering its options” but has not filed an appeal, spokesman Jack Boyne said.

“The ruling has nothing to do with the characteristics of spirotetramat itself, and raises no substantive concerns regarding the product,” Boyne said. “Spirotetramat has been extensively tested in laboratory and field studies and has shown excellent performance, with regard to bee safety.”

The EPA has not filed an appeal, said agency spokeswoman Enesta Jones. “We are reviewing the decision,” she said, without elaboration.

The article continues at the Tribune-Review.

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