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EPA Approves Bee-Killing Insecticide

Sulfloxaflor causes nervous system damage and death in honeybees.
Scott Butner
Flickr Creative Commons
Sulfloxaflor causes nervous system damage and death in honeybees.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expanding the use of an insecticide that is toxic to bees. The move affects more than 17 million acres of farmland in our region.

 Click 'play' to hear the audio version of this story.

The insecticide is called sulfloxaflor and the EPA itself characterizes it as “very highly toxic” to bees.It damages the insect’s nervous system and can be lethal. The agency is now allowing the chemical to be applied on crops like strawberries, and alfalfa, which is grown all over the Mountain West. 

"One in three bites of our food is pollinated by bees," says Lori Ann Burd with the Center For Biological Diversity. "They’re incredibly important to a healthy and nutritious diet, but they’re also incredibly important for wild plants. So imagine a world without wildflower meadows, without blueberries." 

Sulfloxaflor helps kill pests like aphids, which can cause major damage to crops. 

In a press release, the EPA says the approval of the new uses of the insecticide will help provide economic certainty for farmers. The EPA does restrict when the chemical can be applied. For example, it can’t be sprayed when certain fruit and plants are blooming and bees are likely to be around. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho,  KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC KUNR in Nevada and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Amanda Peacher is an Arthur F. Burns fellow reporting and producing in Berlin in 2013. Amanda is from Portland, Oregon, where she works as the public insight journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting. She produces radio and online stories, data visualizations, multimedia projects, and facilitates community engagement opportunities for OPB's newsroom.
Amanda Peacher
Amanda Peacher works for the Mountain West News Bureau out of Boise State Public Radio. She's an Idaho native who returned home after a decade of living and reporting in Oregon. She's an award-winning reporter with a background in community engagement and investigative journalism.
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