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AG Bonta heads coalition calling on EPA to restrict pesticide over impacts to bees

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SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Rob Bonta and the attorneys general of 12 other states are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to take action on a pesticide that they described was "extremely toxic" to bees and other pollinators.

In a letter to the agency, the attorneys urged restrictions on sulfoxaflor, saying harm to pollinators could ultimately harm their economies and endanger the nation's food security.

"From almonds to tomatoes, citrus to strawberries, our farms produce the crops that help Americans put nutritious, diverse food on the table. None of that would be possible without bees and other pollinators," Bonta said in a statement Tuesday. " That's why I join my fellow attorneys general today in urging the EPA to impose restrictions backed by research on the use of the toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor."

Specifically, the coalition said the agency should restrict the pesticide's use when crops are blooming and when pollinators are most likely to be present, along with requiring a buffer zone between where sulfoxaflor is being sprayed and where crops are blooming.

The attorneys also called for further research into the chemical's impacts on the environment and on people.

Bonta's office said the letter follows multiple amicus briefs by the California Department of Justice in lawsuits that challenged then-President Donald Trump's administration's previous attempts to lift restrictions on sulfoxaflor.

Late last year, the lawsuits were successful and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to correct various legal violations. In February, the agency published a notice seeking public comment on the use of sulfoxaflor.

According to the EPA, sulfoxaflor is a sulfoximine, a newer insecticide class that was first registered by the agency in 2013. The chemical is used to target pests such as aphids and tarnished plant bugs.

Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington in the letter. The attorneys claim their states represent 37% of the nation's crops.

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