Washington rejects restriction on garden pesticide

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YAKIMA (AP) — The state Department of Agriculture declined a request to restrict a class of backyard pesticides suspected of killing honey bees.

There’s no documented evidence the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is a significant contributor to the decline of bee colonies in Washington, department Director Bud Hover told Thurston County commissioners Thursday in a letter. The commission had requested restrictions on behalf of beekeepers.

“The proposed use restrictions are not appropriate at this time,” Hover wrote.

The pesticides commonly called neonics are used to kill aphids and other insects on ornamental plants. They also are used on some crops, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Friday.

The state agency said it would monitor studies and ask federal regulators whether additional restrictions are needed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have said bee losses are the result of a number of factors, including parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition, as well as pesticide exposure, the state Agriculture Department said.

The Thurston County request sought to bar most homeowners from purchasing neonicotinoid insecticides and require anyone using them to obtain an applicator license from the state.

The state Agriculture Department said it will remind pesticide applicators of their responsibility to protect pollinators and help retailers provide information to home and garden users.