The Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing last week to review the federal coordination and response regarding pollinator health, and what role, if any, neonicotinoid insecticides may be playing.
“Federal coordination and communication is vital in establishing rules and regulations impacting pollinator health and farmers’ abilities to produce food,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL). “Pollinators play an important role in agriculture production, and it is essential that agencies work together to promote their health without overburdening farmers and politicizing the issue.”
In his opening statement, Davis noted that the White House last year established a task force involving various departments and agencies to develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy. “While coordination and communication were understood to be a central tenant of this executive order, only days after receiving the order, the National Wildlife Refuge System announced a ban on neonics and biotech plants without a single effort to communicate with either USDA or EPA their intentions or justification,” said Davis. “I would note that the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of the EPA were appointed to co-chair the President’s task force. As both agencies were completely caught off guard by this announcement, each expressed frustration with the lack of communication.”
Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Robert Johansson, acting chief economist at USDA, testified on behalf of their respective agencies.