Endangered Species Likely to Be Hard Hit by Neonicotinoid Insecticides, EPA Finds

September 8, 2021 | (September 8, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2021 released a long-overdue biological evaluation of the three most commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that the chemicals are likely to adversely affect the lion’s share of endangered species and their habitat. While the public may be most familiar with the damage neonics cause to pollinator populations, EPA’s evaluation highlights the widespread, indiscriminate harm scientists throughout the world have been sounding the alarm about for years. Advocates say the findings make it clear that neonicotinoids must be immediately banned from use. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), EPA is required to consult with federal wildlife agencies and conduct a biological evaluation of the impacts a pesticide may have on endangered species and their habitats, prior to the agency formally registering the pesticide. Under EPA’s current draft, each neonic is found to adversely affect over 1,000 endangered species out of 1,821 listed under the law. Specifically, the neonics are found to adversely effect nontarget endangered species: imidacloprid – 1,445 (79%), clothianidin—1,225 (67%), and thiamethoxam—1,396 (77%). Harmful effects are not limited to a specific subgroup—dozens of species are affected within all groups, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, plants, and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. These findings are stark in the context of actions by the previous administration to weaken the biological evaluation process. [EPA, August 2021.]