A bee researcher’s bees kept dying. The culprit was a nearby ethanol plant.

In FERN's latest piece, and the last from our special food issue with Switchyard magazine, reporter Dan Charles takes us through an agricultural mystery that leads, disturbingly, to a regulatory failure that threatens bees and other pollinators still today.

EPA restricts use of malathion to protect endangered species

Following guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency has revised its rules on use of the insecticide malathion in an effort to protect 78 threatened and endangered species.

Lawsuit would force EPA to regulate coated seeds

The EPA wrongly exempted insecticide-coated seeds from regulation and must be ordered to “assess and register” the seeds as pesticides, said two environmental groups in a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

Neonicotinoid insecticides have broad reach, says EPA

Three widely used neonicotinoids are likely to adversely affect, in at least some way, most of the threatened and endangered species in the country, said the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday.

California sets Feb. 6 deadline to end sale of chlorpyrifos

An agreement between pesticide manufacturers and the California EPA will cut off sales of the insecticide chlorpyrifos on Feb. 6 and ban virtually all use of the chemical in the state after next Dec. 31. It offers a much speedier schedule for withdrawing the chemical from the market in the No. 1 agricultural state than initially expected.

Lawsuit seeks ban of widely used insecticide

Eleven environmental, labor, and medical groups filed suit in a U.S. appeals court in California on Wednesday to ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. It was the second time the groups have sought to force the EPA to ban the widely used organophosphate pesticide.

While EPA ponders, California will ban insecticide chlorpyrifos

California environmental regulators announced on Wednesday that the state will prohibit use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, a process that could take two years to complete. Even as California acted, the U.S. EPA was facing a court-imposed deadline of mid-July to decide on a federal ban of the pesticide.

Court gives EPA 90 days to decide fate of chlorpyrifos

The federal appeals court in San Francisco ordered the EPA to decide within 90 days — by mid-July — whether to ban agricultural use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, already barred from residential use. Environmental groups have campaigned for years to take the organophosphate pesticide out of use in the United States.

EU bans outdoor use of neonicotinoids on crops

The member nations of the EU voted for a near-total ban of neonicotinoid insecticides, over the objections of farmers and pesticide manufacturers. Known as neonics, the chemicals are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world and have been linked by scientific studies to the decline in honeybees and other pollinators, said BBC News.

Insecticide a threat to migrating songbirds, says study

Research by the University of Saskatchewan provides “the first direct evidence that neonicotinoids can harm songbirds and their migration,” said the Guardian, by causing the birds to lose weight and their sense of direction.

EPA official regulating chemicals used to work for chemical lobby

A Trump administration appointee at EPA has taken an influential role in federal assessment of the risk posed by hazardous chemicals, "making it more aligned with the industry's wishes," reports the New York Times. The new approach includes the EPA decision in March to allow continued agriculture use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide criticized as a risk to children and farmworkers.

EU punts GMO vote

The EU voted to block two kinds of GMO crops, but weren’t able to get the “qualified majority” required to completely ban them. Instead, the vote has been kicked to the European Commission’s executive, President Jean-Claude Juncker, says Reuters.

Europe considers total ban on anti-bee insecticides

The European Commission is considering draft regulations to ban the mostly widely used insecticides in fields across Europe in order to protect bees, according to documents obtained by The Guardian via the Pesticide Action Network Europe. A vote is expected this May; if passed the ban could take effect within months.

Sheltering bees in the age of Zika

Public-health officials know that the insecticides that kill mosquitoes, in order to prevent Zika and other diseases, also are fatal to honeybees, butterflies and imperiled species, says Ensia in describing an emerging interest in minimizing environmental harm. "We're just at the beginning stages, trying to figure out what we need to focus on," said Patricia Bright, senior science adviser for the U.S. Geological Survey.

EPA board clears way for phase-out of Bayer insecticide

An EPA appeals board that oversees pesticide regulation upheld cancellation of U.S. use of the insecticide flubendiamide, made by Bayer and sold under the brand name Belt, said Agri-Pulse.

Court sets deadline for EPA decision on chlorpyrifos

In a one-page order, the U.S. appeals court in San Francisco set Dec. 30, 2016, as the deadline for the EPA to respond to a petition by two environmental groups calling for a ban on chlorpyrifos, an insecticide, reports Agri-Pulse.

Substituting sex for insecticides

The New York Times reports on a potential solution for a highly adaptive pest that targets kale, broccoli and other cabbage-family vegetables. Damage from the diamondback moth costs farmers $5 billion worldwide.

“Neonic” insecticides found in half of U.S. streams tested

Neonicotinoid insecticides were found in a little more than half of the streams sampled from 2011-14 in a study of the prevalence of pesticides and other contaminants in waterways, said the U.S. Geological Survey.

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