The expanded use of a controversial pesticide in California has been reversed by a state appeals court due to insufficient review by state regulators.
A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal has agreed with an environmental group that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation didn’t adequately scrutinize the effects of dinotefuran before approving increased usage in 2014.
Dinotefuran is a type of neonicotoid, a class of pesticides that are considered less harmful to humans, mammals and birds than traditional organophosphate insect killers.
In recent years, though, neonicotinoids have been blamed for the health problems of honeybees and other pollinators.
Two types of dinotefuran — Venom Insecticide and Dinotefuran 20SG — were approved by the agency in 2014 to be applied in larger quantities and on additional types of crops.
The Pesticide Action Network North America, or PANNA, sought an injunction against the decision but a state judge denied the environmental group’s motion.
The Court of Appeal has now reversed that ruling, ordering the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to rescind the pesticide label amendments permitting expanded use of dinotefuran.
The agency didn’t live up to the review requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act because it didn’t explore alternatives to expanding the use of dinotefuran, the ruling said.
The agency argued that such an alternatives analysis wasn’t necessary because the approval didn’t have significant environmental effects. However, the court said it was “perplexed” as to how the department could reach such a conclusion, since neonicotoids in general are being re-evaluated by the agency in response to data showing the chemicals can build up to toxic levels in bees.
The department also neglected to study the cumulative effects of the expanded usage and did not establish a “baseline” of ongoing neonicotinoid use in California, which is necessary to measure the environmental impacts, the ruling said.