Washington ag department nixes request to halt insecticide's use

06/06/2013 03:28:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

After a 60-day review period, the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced it would not move forward to limit residential use of neonicotinoid insecticides on ornamentals.

The decision was prompted by an April 8 petition by the Thurston County Board of Commissioners, according to a news release.

The commissioners based their request on concern about honeybee population declines and reports from the European Union that possibly link the insecticide class has to bee health.

Neonicotinoids are used on a wide range of ornamentals and commercial crops to control pests, such as aphids, weevils and whiteflies. They belong to the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee's Group 4A.

“WSDA shares your concerns about honey bee colony health and is acutely aware of the importance of honey bees and other pollinators to the economy and the environment of Washington,” department director Bud Hover wrote in response to the county.

“There is currently no documented evidence that the use of the neonicotinoid insecticides on ornamental plants is causing a significant adverse effect on honeybee colony health in Washington state.

"Because it has not been established that this use is a significant contributor to the decline of honeybee colonies in Thurston County or elsewhere in the state, the proposed use restrictions are not appropriate at this time.”

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency blamed decline in honeybee populations on not one but several factors, including parasites, diseases, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

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