Pollinator Protection: Advancing the Science
Sound science is the basis for the EPA’s regulatory decisions. Data used for analytical and regulatory purposes must be of the highest quality. The agency’s mission to protect pollinators is challenging because we first need to refine our current study requirements and then design additional studies that can provide us with the necessary quality data.
This page provides information about how the EPA is working to advance the science for pollinator risk assessment.
FIFRA Science Advisory Panel Meeting on Risk Assessment for Bees
From September 11-14, 2012, the EPA convened meeting of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel on a proposed framework for determining the potential risks of pesticides to honey bees.
The EPA, in collaboration with scientists from Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, developed a White Paper describing a new risk assessment process for bees, along with the exposure and toxicity data needed to inform that process.
EPA received input from the Scientific Advisory Panel and has already begun to implement this framework as part of our pesticide registration process and registration review activities for already registered pesticides.
International Workshop on Risk Assessment for Insect Pollinators
The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is a professional science organization that supports workshops designed to address important science issues. SETAC held a workshop in January 2011 and brought together 48 experts from government, industry, academic and non-governmental organizations representing a range of expertise including toxicologists, statisticians, bee biologists, modelers, beekeepers, risk assessors and risk managers from North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa.
The conference participants:
- Developed methods to measure exposure from both systemic and non-systemic pesticides;
- Identified consistent methods to identify and measure toxic effects of pesticides to bees;
- Developed a risk assessment process for pollinator species; and
- Evaluated whether the methods for evaluating risks to honey bees are adequate to estimate risk to other types of insect pollinators.
The SETAC conference provided us with important scientific groundwork to better protect pollinators through our regulatory programs. An executive summary of the SETAC workshop (PDF) is now available.
The full proceedings should be published soon.
New Web-based Portal for Reporting Bee-Related Incidents
In addition to relying on sound science, the EPA also uses incident reports to help guide our pesticide regulatory decisions.
After learning from beekeepers about pesticide incidents that were never reported to the EPA, we collaborated with Oregon State University, through the National Pesticide Information Center cooperative agreement, to develop and update a Web-based portal for beekeepers to report incidents.
Information from these reports will help us identify bee kills associated with the use of specific pesticides or active ingredients.
In addition to reporting incidents through the NPIC portal, the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs also accepts bee-kill incident reports directly.
For enforcement investigation, incidents should still be reported to the appropriate state lead agency for pesticides.
Supporting Research into Pesticides and Pollinators
- We are partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study declines in pollinator health;
- We have provided input to government and university researchers studying pesticides to ensure the production of quality data that are useful in our risk assessments.
- Our Analytical Chemistry Laboratory has developed methods for scientists to measure residues of neonicotinoid pesticides at 0.2 parts per billion, which is 10 times lower than what has previously been measured. EPA scientists have also found a way to measure a wider range of environmental breakdown products for these pesticides.