As concern grows about declining pollinator populations grows, a selection of farm groups this week released an educational guide to help users of treated seed avoid risks to non-target organisms, such as bees.
The National Corn Growers Association, together with the American Seed Trade Association, CropLife America, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association and Agricultural Retailers Association partnered to develop the guide.
"As public interest in pollinator health continues to increase, the guide will be an invaluable resource for our members," said NCGA President Pam Johnson. "We encourage all corn growers to refer to it before, during and after the corn planting season."
The Seed Treatment Stewardship Guide contains recommendations for planting of treated seeds; safe use of seed treatment products; safe handling and transport of seeds; selection of treatment products; treated seed labeling; and the storage of treated seeds.
The guide also includes a seed treatment glossary and list of resources. It is intended as a reference to help users voluntarily adopt and develop stewardship practices related to the use of seed treatments and treated seed.
The guide comes as the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year released a report suggesting that bee populations are declining as a result of several factors, including parasites, disease, poor nutrition and a lack of genetic diversity.
Though the report indicated neonicotinoid seed treatments have been linked to some instances of bee deaths, it said "the decline in honey bee health is a complex problem caused by a combination of stressors."
The EPA has also developed a new "bee advisory icon" that will be included on the labels of pesticide products that contain the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
New enforcement guidance from the EPA has also been distributed to federal, state and tribal officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents. Several groups and companies have also taken steps to avoid future incidents, as pollinators remain essential to many agricultural crops.
Download the new seed treatment reference document here.