The NCC’s Environmental Task Force (ETF) met in Washington, D.C., to address pollinators and their impact on cotton pesticide registrations. The ETF also was updated on the status of conservation programs and activities related to herbicide resistance, endangered species, NPDES permits and spray drift. The ETF is an important NCC advisory committee on legislation, regulations and policy regarding pesticides, biotechnology and other environmental issues affecting the US cotton industry.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been in the news for several years now as scientists try to determine why colonies of bees are dying. This public attention to the loss of bee hives has caused the EPA to look more carefully at pesticide impact on bees. The agency has raised concerns for several cotton pesticides, citing cotton’s extra-floral nectaries and lengthy flowering period as a concern for continuous presence of bees.

Guest speakers at the ETF meeting were Dr. Don Brady, director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division in EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs; Dr. David Epstein, USDA Office of Pest Management Policy; and Dr. Iain Kelly of the recently formed CropLife America’s Pollinator Issue Management Team.

Dr. Brady explained that CCD is a complex phenomenon of which pesticide impact is just one of many factors. He did say that EPA is receiving increasing pressure from beekeeper groups as the agency prepares to re-evaluate the neonicitinoids and that the agency is looking for protections that will not be overly restrictive. He said EPA will study an anticipated report of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, which lays out a tiered risk assessment process for pollinators. The agency plans to peer review this report and then convene a Scientific Advisory Panel to discuss it later this year.

In executive session, the ETF unanimously agreed to develop language to insert into policy resolutions for consideration at next month’s NCC annual meeting that would encourage use of sound data in such pollinator risk assessments.

ETF members are: Chairman Mike Tate, Huntsville, Ala.; Steven Clay, Carnegie, Okla.; Barry Evans, Kress, Texas; Patrick Johnson, Tunica, Miss.; John Lindamood, Tiptonville, Tenn.; Allen McLaurin, Laurel Hill, N.C.; Cannon Michael, Los Banos, Calif.; Lee Tiller, Odem, Texas; and, James Webb, Leary, Ga.