Pollinators & Pesticides

Bee Pollinating FlowerPervasive pesticide use around the country threatens essential pollinators and the broader web of life – including humans. PEER highlights key new science and exposes Administration coverups of the dangers.

Increasing evidence shows that the bees, moths, butterflies, and other species responsible for pollinating more than two-thirds of the world’s food crops are dwindling at startling rates. And while habitat loss and climate change are important drivers of these losses, the nationwide use of persistent, highly toxic, poorly-regulated pesticides has rightly attracted the concern of many scientists working in federal agencies like EPA — agencies that, while charged with regulating the pesticide industry and ensuring safety, seem all-too-willing to act in the best interests of those very industries. Not only pollinators are at risk. Aquatic invertebrates, birds, bats, and indeed whole ecosystems – even human health – are under threat.

PEER networks with individual scientists working in the public agencies and land-grant universities and offers them legal and other support so that their research and careers can continue undisturbed. We have a long history of defending and assisting such scientists, including pollinator experts, whether in personnel actions if it comes to that or in more behind-the-scenes ways.

Pollinators and Pesticides

Past Litigation and Advocacy

In 2015, following several years of successful litigation led by PEER, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) banned genetically modified (GMO) crops and persistent neonicotinoid insecticides in the extensive agriculture that occurs within the National Wildlife Refuges, which the USFWS manages. “Roundup Ready” GMO crops and long-lasting insecticides are fundamentally contradictory to the purpose of Wildlife Refuges, as they can wipe out native invertebrates and their habitats. However, former President Trump’s Department of the Interior reversed the ban in August of 2018, announcing that it will again allow their use within the Refuges. PEER is fighting back. 

Current FOIAs and Litigation

PEER is following on its 2018 FOIA request to the USFWS in order to expose the industry pressure that drove this reversal, including the role of former Monsanto executive Aurelia Skipwith, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the USFWS with oversight over the National Wildlife Refuges who played a role in rescinding the ban. We are suing the agency over it hundreds of pages of FOIA redactionsOur aim is obtaining and exposing information on the narrow interests that drove the ban rescissioncontradicting the past recommendations of the USFWS’s own scientists. We also are seeking information from the managers of the most sensitive Wildlife Refuges and will advocate to them to not allow these harmful agricultural practices to start up again. More litigation may follow if needed. 

The Alarming Deer/neonicotinoids Study

Image result for fawn tail deerA former PEER client, entomologist and pesticide expert Jonathan Lundgren, is a co-author on a highlyalarming new study, Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Physiology and Reproductive Characteristics of Captive Female and Fawn White-tailed Deer.  The study found that field-relevant contamination with the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid caused reduced body weight and metabolism in adults and – in fawns – mortality. It adds to the mounting hazards posed by current patterns of neonicotinoid use. Extensive knowledge now exists on how these long-lasting “systemic” insecticides harm birds, bats, pollinators, other beneficial insects, and aquatic invertebrates. PEER is working to get these results better publicized, including reaching out to key decisionmakers in Federal and State wildlife agencies and in Congress. 


Pressure Mounts on EPA to Curb Bee-Killing Pesticides

New Reports and Findings Strip Away Agency’s Leeway for Further Evasion

PEERMail | Pesticide Problems Grow

Pesticides have devastating effects on wildlife, human health, and many rural economies

High Levels of Dangerous ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in California’s Most-Used Insecticide

40% of Tested Agricultural Pesticide Products Contain PFAS

COMMENTARY | Letter to the EPA: Take Action on “Devil’s Bargain” Pesticides

The environment needs protection from neonic-coated seeds, which are by far the broadest pesticide/insecticide ...

PEERMail | Reversing a Shocking Pesticides Decision

Because the overuse of pesticides is a significant cause of pollinator collapse, we are in this battle for the long term.

Broadly Supported Petition Urges EPA Reforms for Bee and Bird-Killing Pesticides

Neonicotinoid insecticides targeted for wreaking eco-havoc despite lack of economic benefits

Substantial PFAS Contamination Found in Pesticides in Colorado

Threat to Food Chain Justifies Colorado Ban of All Pesticides Containing PFAS

COMMENTARY | EPA Continues to Exempt the Most Widespread Bee- and Bird-Killing Insecticides

EPA continues to fail to regulate bee and bird killing pesticides, particularly those used to coat crop seeds.

Fumigant Decision Shows EPA Science at Its Worst

EPA Doubles Down on Mistakes Despite Whistleblower and IG Critiques

PEERMail | Shocking News on Pesticides

PEER is urgently asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of PFAS in pesticides

PEERMail | Save the EPA

On September 20, 2022, thousands of people from around the country will take part in a rally outside of the EPA ...

Food Supply Chain Imperiled by PFAS-Laden Barrels

EPA Confirms PFAS in Fluorinated Containers Leach into Contents

EPA’s Belated PFAS Pesticide Ingredient Ban Does Little

Banning a Dozen Inert Ingredients Does Not Stem PFAS Agricultural Spread

EPA Corrupted Pesticide Risk Assessment to Aid Industry

IG Found Managers Trampled Standard Procedures to Diminish Cancer Risk

PEERMail | Reversing EPA’s Pesticide Failures

EPA needs good scientists who want to work in environments where they feel supported and respected, even in the ...

EPA’s Pesticides Office Labeled as a Failure

Groups Push Array of Immediate Reforms

COMMENTARY | EPA’s Pesticide Office – A Plague on Us All

Reforming EPA’s thoroughly broken pesticide program is a bipartisan problem and will not happen without a powerful ...

Letter to Michael Regan – pesticides – 06-15-2021 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to EPA regarding the improper fast-tracked approval of pesticides containing PFAS and (up to ...

COMMENTARY | New England States Must Act on PFAS in Pesticides

PFAS laden pesticides being sprayed aerially to control mosquitoes is yet another exposure to this ubiquitous ...

Webinar | EPA’s Broken Pesticides Program

Webinar on steps that the Biden administration must take to fix its broken pesticides program at the EPA. 

PFAS Found in Widely Used Insecticide  

Environmental groups call on EPA and Maryland to find and eliminate source 

Call to Restore Ban on Farming Risks in Wildlife Refuges

GM Crops and Neonic Insecticides Incompatible with Refuge Purposes  

BLOG | EPA’s Bad Chemistry Is Killing Us 

We cannot afford to wait for EPA to finally become a 21st century regulator of harmful chemicals that find our way ...

Fraud Charged in EPA Pesticide Risk Assessment

Downgrade of Fumigant Cancer-Potential Due to Pervasive Misconduct

BLOG | Research Suppression at USDA and Stagnation of Agricultural Science

Jonathan Lundgren was a top-rated USDA research scientist until he started revealing the environmental harms of ...

Vilsack’s Disturbing Suppression of USDA Science 

His Biotech Advocacy Quashed Research Showing Adverse Effects   

EPA Confirms PFAS in Aerial Pesticides  

Regulatory Loopholes Allow Massive Spread of Toxic “Forever Chemicals”

PEERMail: We Need a Radical Departure on Pesticides

The federal law that provides for  regulation of pesticides has proven utterly inadequate and we need a radical ...

Beyond 2020: Pesticides

Recommendations to Congress and the EPA to protect the environment and public health from the dangers of pesticides.

BLOG | Time to Break the PFAS Bond

We need Congress and the EPA to stop the introduction of PFAS into the environment and our water sources to ...

BLOG | The U.S. Lags Way Behind Other Countries in Banning Harmful Pesticides  

The U.S. needs to catch up on pesticide regulation, through updates to laws and a political commitment to getting ...

Op-Ed | Should We Stop Spraying for Mosquitoes During the Pandemic?

Should we be using pesticides when spraying for mosquitoes that may compromise someone’s respiratory system during ...

Massachusetts Concedes Aerial Spraying Largely Ineffective

Half of Spray Events Kill Zero Mosquitos; No Proof of Disease Reduction

BLOG | Protect Honeybees and Pollinators by Ending the Use of Toxic Pesticides 

Pollinators are collapsing around the world and even more so in the United States. What we are witnessing is an ...

Massachusetts Struggles for Safe, Effective Mosquito Control 

Governor’s Arbovirus Proposal Much Improved but Big Questions Remain  

Jonathan Lundgren, Former USDA Entomologist: A Bee Expert With His Integrity Intact

When USDA’s research arm tried to stifle his research on the effects of pesticides on honey bees and the ...

BLOG: Pesticides: Persistent Threat to Birds, Bees and Humans

With roughly 40 percent of insect life threatened with extinction over the coming decades, the Environmental ...

BLOG: EPA Continues to Approve Bee-Killing Insecticides

With over 40 percent of insect life threatened with extinction, the EPA continues to issue emergency exemptions to ...

PEER Hosts Congressional Briefing on Toxic Pesticides

Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Nydia Velázquez join agricultural and health experts and environmental ...

Fight for Records on GMOs and Bee-Killing Insecticides

Role of Ex-Monsanto Executive in Green-Lighting Use on Refuges at Issue

The Woman from Monsanto Inside Interior

Former Executive Had Hand in Lifting GMO and Pesticide Bans in Refuges

Wildlife Refuges to Allow GM Crops and Neonic Insecticides

Reversal of National Ban Threatens Pollinators and Other Wildlife in Their Refuges

EPA’s New Scientific Transparency Exempts Pesticides

Industry Pesticide Registration Data Hidden from Public and Outside Pruitt Plan

USDA Axes Webinars on Neonic Insecticide Risks

Topic Deemed “Not Appropriate” for Official and Outreach Education Programs

USDA Scientist Punished for Pollinator Research

Whistleblower Complaint Highlights Official Obstruction of Pesticide Studies

Backyard Mosquito Misting Systems Use False Advertising

FTC Complaint Targets Dangerously Deceptive Claims of Safety and Efficacy

Court Disapproves Neonic Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

Final Suit Rooting Genetically Engineered Crops and Related Practices from Refuges

Refuges to Ban Genetically Engineered Crops and Neonics

Phase-Out May End Decade-Long Legal Battle Over Agriculture On Refuges

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Midwest Wildlife Refuges

Pesticides and Genetically Engineered Crops on Refuge Lands Are Illegal and Damaging to the Environment

Aerial Spraying Leaves Pesticide Footprint in Local Waters

No Buffer Zone or Other Effort to Minimize Pesticide Discharge into Water Bodies

EPA Drops Plan for Pesticide Endorsements and Cause Marketing

Loophole Left for Case-by-Case Okays of Label Pesticide Pitches, Plugs and Logos


Off-Road Pressure Leads to Reversal of Science on Unique Sonoran Wildlife

EPA Grudgingly Pulls Plug on Questionable “CHEERS” Study

Other Human Pesticide Dosing Studies Without Safeguards Can Continue

EPA Embraces Human Pesticide Dosing Without Safeguards

No Standards to Protect Infants and Fetuses
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