EPA funds projects to lower pesticide risk to bees

January 14, 2014 -  By

Through Agricultural Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Grants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting nearly $500,000 toward three university projects focused on reducing the use of pesticides as well as protecting bees from pesticides.

The Agricultural IPM Grant money will be divided among Louisiana State University (LSU), University of Vermont (UVM) and Pennsylvania State University (Penn State).

“These collaborative projects can provide innovative solutions to reduce pesticide risks to pollinators and crops,” said James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Initiatives such as these will encourage others to adopt promising technologies and practices across the nation to reduce pesticide risks while maximizing crop production and protecting public health.”

The UVM project aims to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast. Awardees also will develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices. The project’s goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing downy mildew.

Penn State seeks to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatments and exploring the benefits of growing crops without them. IPM in no-till grain fields will be used to control slugs and other pests that damage corn and soybeans. Researchers will share their findings with mid-Atlantic growers and agricultural professionals.

The LSU project looks to minimize impacts to bees from insecticides used in mosquito control. Practices and guidelines resulting from the project will be distributed to mosquito control districts and beekeepers throughout the U.S.

Protection of bee populations is among the EPA’s top priorities, the agency said, and listed off contributing factors for the decline in pollinators such as loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. Its current efforts include working with beekeepers, growers, pesticide manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and states to apply technologies to reduce pesticide exposure to bees as a means to advance best management practices, enhance enforcement and ensure real-world pollinator risks are accounted for in pesticide regulatory decisions.

Through the grants, the agency hopes to advance those efforts as well as provide solutions to maximize crop production while minimizing the unintended impacts from pesticides.

LM Staff

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