A group of commercial beekeepers, growers and environmental activists recently filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not regulating seeds treated with neonicontoids as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. These groups allege that dust from the coated seeds has harmed the environment, including honey bees and birds.

ASTA supports the federal government's current policy regarding treated seed, including EPA's longstanding "treated article exemption," which excludes seeds from being regulated as pesticides. EPA currently regulates the pesticides used as seed treatments.

A seed may not be treated with a pesticide unless EPA has specifically approved the pesticide for use as a seed treatment on that seed. Seed is regulated by USDA and individual states. Regulating seed as a pesticide, as desired by the groups filing the lawsuit, would only serve to create an unnecessary, added burden for growers.

Seed treatments deliver a precise application that shields seeds from the insects and diseases that exist in the soil during early developmental stages. Seed treatments are a targeted application that reduces the environmental impact of the production process by decreasing the number of spray applications of agrichemical products, lessening exposure to non-target species, including humans, pollinators and the environment.