Seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides will continue to be exempt from regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, following a federal judge's ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by beekeepers and environmental groups.
A 2013 guidance document issued to EPA staff investigating bee deaths is not subject to legal review, U.S. District Judge William Alsup found.
“The court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers,” Alsup said. “Perhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make. A district judge's role is limited to judicial review of final agency actions, which do not include the type of guidance involved here.”
That guidance said that pesticide-treated seeds cannot be regulated as pesticides under FIFRA as long as the seed coatings themselves are registered, and “the pesticidal protection imparted to the treated seed does not extend beyond the seed itself to offer pesticidal benefits or value attributable to the treated seed.”