Apr 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Neonicotinoids Found Harmful To Honeybees

Jan 07, 2016 09:28 PM EST

A widely used pesticide mostly applied to citrus and cotton plants is found to be capable of hurting honeybees. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a statement that imidacloprid, a nicotine-imitating chemical, is a potential risk to them when pesticides come in contact with the crops that attract these pollinators.

EPA's first risk assessment found data that show imidacloprid would reduce the number of bees and the honey they produce if it gets over a certain threshold. EPA considers to take action to reduce the risk to the bees but will still seek public comment.

Citrus and cotton are the crops that were found to exceed the neonicotinoids threshold. Rice, potatoes, corn and wheat contained neonicotinoids but are in a level that cannot harm the honeybees and their honey production. Imidacloprid belongs to the class of pesticides of neonicotinoids and are found in at least 188 farm and household products in California alone.

There are still three more assessments as this is the only the first of the four assessments that EPA conducted. The rest of the remaining assessments are slated to be complete by the end of 2016. If the remaining assessments still reflect what was found in the first assessment, then EPA will regulate the use of this class of pesticide.

"Clearly, as a result of this, there might be more restrictions coming," Charlotte Fadipe, spokeswoman for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, said.

There have been several studies that linked high levels of neonicotinoids to decrease in foraging, queen bee failures, hive communication breakdowns as well as a bevy of other colony-destroying problems. Just the previous year, a study was published suggesting that the neonicotinoids do not have significant effect on bee colonies.

"Will doing anything related to one pesticide solve the overall bee-health problem in the United States? No, but we never thought there was going to be a silver bullet. We need to be working across all of the stressors," Jim Jones, assistant administrator with the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said.

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