In response to a letter from several senators, Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said that although the agency is concerned about potential pesticides’ impacts on bees, it does not intend to further accelerate its review of neonicotinoid pesticides which some beekeepers and environmental groups are blaming for bee kills.

In a July 26 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Sens. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Leahy (D-Va.), and Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked EPA to expedite its review of the neonicotinoid insecticides.

"I want to assure you that the EPA is focused on addressing the potential effects of pesticides on pollinators and is engaged in national and international efforts to address those concerns," Jones wrote in the Aug. 21 response.

Jones stated that these reviews will take time. "As part of advancing our understanding in the context of reevaluation, the EPA has already required six specific studies to address uncertainties related to potential honey bee exposure, and effects from imidacloprid alone,” Jones wrote. “Additional, similar studies will be required of other neonicotinoid insecticides in the near future. These studies, while underway or anticipated, will require time to complete. For example, based on current workplan schedules for the neonicotinoids, the registrants are generating exposure and effects data to be submitted to EPA by the end of 2015."

EPA has admitted that it does not have the appropriate data or methodologies to accurately assess pesticides effects on honey bee populations. On Aug. 16, the agency released its Draft Pollinator Risk Assessment Framework, developed in conjunction with Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, for public comment.

The framework also was the point of discussion for a recently held Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Committee meeting.