The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency has refused an application to import Ortus, an insecticide containing thiamethoxam, because of its threat to bees.
Adria New Zealand Ltd. proposed using Ortus as a seed treatment.
The active ingredient is a neonicotinoid which is toxic to bees.
The EPA declined the application because it had concerns that Ortus would not adhere properly to seeds and that dust would be produced during sowing.
“The dust would pose high risks to bees,” the EPA said. “The risk assessment showed risks to bees were non-negligible.”
The decision came as the New Zealand Farmer magazine reported the NZ EPA is to require a higher level of scientific evidence regarding the safety and effects of new pesticides before considering them for approval.
“We are updating our requirements of applicants seeking our approval to allow new pesticides to be used in New Zealand, the EPA told the magazine. “We are demanding a high level of scientific evidence about the safety and effect of such products before considering them for approval.”
Adria wanted to use Ortus to treat maize and sweetcorn seeds to control Argentine stem weevil larvae.
Seven submissions were received by the EPA with five opposing any approval.
They noted the high toxicity of thiamethoxam to bees and questioned whether the EPA should be approving substances containing neonicotinoids given the international concerns which have resulted in a prohibition of the sale of seeds treated with thiamethoxam in the European Union.
The technical committee of the National Beekeepers Association complained in its submission that the application was incomplete.
“This application has absolutely no discussion on the risks of using this product and the effects on bees,” the association said. “What is worse the application does not discuss the environmental effects at all of thiamethoxam and apparently dismisses them. It does not go onto recognize that thiamethoxam degrades to the metabolite clothianidin, another systemic neonicotinoid insecticide. There is no discussion of the effects of thiamethoxam and its metabolites.
“Without access to the draft label recommendations which have been submitted to the EPA, beekeepers have every right to be concerned about the use of this systemic insecticide thiamethoxam, the subject of this application.
“There is no discussion at all about the systemic properties of Ortus when used and its possible effects on bees through contact with pollen, nectar and guttation fluid from the plant.
“There has been no discussion about the persistence and lack of biodegradation of neonicotinoid chemicals in the environment and their long term environmental ecotoxic effects.”
The EPA committee handling the application said the environmental risk assessment showed that Ortus is very hazardous to terrestrial invertebrates, including bees.
“The applicant was not able to produce acceptable evidence to show that Ortus adheres properly to the seed or any information on the level of dust production,” it said.
The committee found the positive effects of Ortus do not outweigh the adverse effects, “Therefore, the application is declined.”
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