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Energy and Environment
KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

EPA Approves Bee-Killing Insecticide

Sulfloxaflor causes nervous system damage and death in honeybees.
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 2019 Boise State Public Radio News