Attorney General Mayes Joins Calls for EPA Restrictions on Pesticide Found to be Extremely Toxic to Bees

PHOENIX—Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes today joined a multistate coalition in calling for nationwide restrictions on the use of sulfoxaflor, a chemical pesticide that is extremely toxic to bees and other pollinators. The coalition, comprising some of the nation’s leading agricultural producers, depend on pollinators to sustain their crops and natural ecosystems. In a letter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, the coalition of 13 states warned that the unrestricted use of sulfoxaflor could have devastating effects on pollinators, and ultimately harm their states’ economies and endanger the nation’s food security. The coalition urged the EPA to adopt reasonable restrictions on sulfoxaflor’s use and support further research into the pesticide’s potential impacts on human health and the environment.
“Crops and natural ecosystems in Arizona rely heavily on the critical role that bees and other pollinators play,” said Attorney General Mayes. “Allowing unrestricted use of sulfoxaflor puts these ecosystems at risk and could have severe consequences for the state’s economy and food security nationwide. I urge the EPA to take reasonable steps to restrict the use of this highly toxic pesticide and conduct much needed research on its impacts on both the environment and human health.”
During the Trump Administration, the EPA faced lawsuits challenging its attempts to lift needed restrictions on sulfoxaflor and allow the pesticide's use in controversial ways — without consulting the public or considering the pesticide’s effects on endangered species. In December 2022, the lawsuits were successful, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the EPA to immediately correct various legal violations. As a result, in February this year, the EPA published a notice seeking public comment on the use of sulfoxaflor.
Today’s letter, issued by 13 attorneys general, provides important state input in response to that notice. In their letter, the attorneys general assert that the states they represent together produce 37% of the nation’s crops and play a key role in American food security and resilience. These 13 states are the leading national producers of a wide variety of crops, such as apples, almonds, lettuce, hops, beets, tomatoes, coffee, and oranges. They also have extraordinary natural resources and ecosystems and are home to a variety of threatened and endangered species and critical habitats. All of this relies on pollination by insects such as bees.

To prevent harm to these necessary pollinators, the attorneys general urged the EPA to:

  • Restrict the use of sulfoxaflor when crops are blooming and pollinators are most likely to present;
  • Reimpose a required buffer zone between where sulfoxaflor is being sprayed and where vegetation is blooming;
  • Encourage collaboration between owners of nearby fields to ensure sulfoxaflor is not applied before or during a period when managed pollinators are nearby; 
  • Support further research into sulfoxaflor’s impacts on the environment and on humans, and remain vigilant about its potential harms.

In issuing the letter to the EPA, Attorney General Mayes joined the attorneys general of California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.