Earthjustice Wins Fight to Block Bee-Killing Pesticides in California

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Bees face a no-win situation when attacked: if they sting back, they die.

Fortunately for California's bee population, EarthJustice lawyers fought for them and won a life-saving battle. A state appeals court has reversed a decision that would have unleashed deadly pesticides on the honeybee.

"This is a win for public health, the environment -- and in particular honeybees," said Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Networks, plaintiffs in the case.

"Colony Collapse Disorder"

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation had approved the use of two pesticides -- Venom Insecticide and Dinotefuran 20SG. But the First District Court of Appeal said the agency failed to disclose the impact on honeybees.

According to studies the court cited in Pesticide Action Network v. California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 28 to 33 percent of the U.S. honeybee colonies have failed each year since 2006. The "colony collapse disorder" happens when a bee colony suddenly disappears.

EarthJustice lawyers had filed suit in 2014, seeking to halt the government's approval of the neonicotinoid pesticides pending more research on the effect of their effects on bees. 

"DPR acknowledged almost 10 years ago that neonicotinoids are killing bees, yet the agency has approved more and more uses for these toxic pesticides every year since," said EarthJustice attorney Greg Loarie. "It's time for DPR to do its job and protect honeybees and the multi-billion dollar agricultural economy that bees make possible in this State."

Billions in Pollination

Scientists have linked certain pesticides to the decline of bee colonies throughout the world. More than 800 independent studies have found overwhelming evidence connecting pesticides to diminishing honeybee populations, according to reports.

They estimate that a third of food resources depend on bees for pollination. Pollination globally is worth about $125 billion and between $20 to $30 billion in the U.S. alone.

In California, almond crops are entirely dependent on bees for pollination and are valued at over $8 billion.

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