Rice fields made toxic?

State agency proposes widespread use of pesticide in valley rice fields.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has proposed the widespread use of a chemical known to harm wildlife as a pesticide in rice fields throughout the Sacramento Valley.

Under the brand name Belay, the pesticide in question contains a neonicotinoid called clothianidin, which has been linked to the collapse of honey bee colonies and is highly toxic to aquatic animals, according to an Earthjustice press release. The proposition—which has drawn the ire of a coalition of environmental advocacy groups—would allow for both ground and aerial spraying.

If the proposition is finalized, Belay would become the first neonicontinoid approved for use in California’s rice fields, which are often planted in close proximity to almond and plum orchards that rely on honey bees for pollination.

“DPR is all too often a rubber stamp for the chemical industry, routinely approving dangerous pesticides we don’t need,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie.