Nov 052015

Scroll down for email cancelling webinars, the description of one of the webinars, and emails from within NRCS about the need for the training.

A Natural Resources Conservation Service official cancelled two webinars last year on the risks of neonicotinoid insecticides to aquatic ecosystems and pollinators, saying the topics were "not appropriate" for an NRCS-sponsored webinar. (link goes to PEER press release)

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility revealed the cancellations in documents it obtained and posted online.

In a press release, PEER said:

On June 2, 2014, a nationally advertised webinar entitled “Pesticides and Potholes: Understanding the Risks of Neonicotinoid Insecticides to Aquatic Ecosystems in Prairie Canada and Beyond” was nixed on orders from Wayne Honeycutt, Deputy Chief for Science and Technology for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A companion webinar on the efficacy of neonicotinoid seed treatments and practices to minimize adverse impacts on pollinators and other non-target organisms was also scrubbed. The cancelled webinars were part of a series addressing priority training needs identified by NRCS and partner biologists. Without elaborating, Honeycutt declared in an email that “these topics were not appropriate for an NRCS sponsored webinar.”

The revelation came just days after PEER announced the filing of a whistleblower complaint on behalf of a USDA entomologist, apparently punished for publishing his research.

Sep 102015

Bee pollinating basil (public domain image)

Ed. note: Our initial report on this decision, relying on the court's decision, identified sulfoxaflor as a neonicotinoid. It is, in fact,a  sulfoximine. (The opinion said sulfoxaflor "acts on the same receptor in insects as does the class of insecticides referred to as neonicotinoids, but its mechanism is distinct from other neonicotinoids, so it is currently the only member of a subclass of neonicotinoids called
sulfoximines. Some insects that are resistant to other
neonicotinoids are not resistant to sulfoxaflor because of the unique mechanism sulfoxaflor uses." In a statement issued after the decision, EPA said flatly, "Sulfoxaflor is not a neonicotinoid."

Also: While this item does not directly implicate endangered species or wetlands, it could well have an impact on petitions seeking listing of butterflies or bees. There's no question it's a significant decision.


Sept. 10, 2015 -- The Ninth Circuit vacated EPA's unconditional registration of Dow AgroSciences' insecticide, sulfoxaflor, saying it was "based on flawed and limited data [and] was not supported by substantial evidence" (Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA, 13-72346).

The opinion is posted below. Here is Earthjustice's announcement and its initial press release (upon suing)