California citrus industry officials are raising concerns about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to protect the nation’s bee population.
The EPA this week announced the first of four preliminary risk assessments for insecticides potentially harmful to bees, specifically neonicotinoids. Federal officials are concerned that citrus crops may have residues of pesticides in pollen and nectar above the threshold level.
Citrus industry officials dispute that finding.
“Our industry has a long history of working with the bee industry and participated in developing stringent regulations protective of bees that allow our two non-compatible industries to co-exist,” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual in Exeter.
Nelsen said pesticides, including those containing neonicotinoids, are important in the fight against the the Asian citrus psyllid, a pest capable of carrying the incurable disease, Huanglongbing.
“We empathize with beekeepers dealing with colony collapse,” Nelsen said. “But, neonicotinoids are a vital tool in the battle to save the citrus industry.”
California Citrus Mutual is a member of the Pollinator Protection Work Group of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, a federal advisory committee that meets with EPA on a regular basis to discuss pesticide issues.