New Zealand campaigners against pesticides are calling on the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to ban sales of a chemical used to coat seeds, after a court decision has taken it off the market in America.
A United States federal appeals court has overturned approval for the neonicotinoid sulfoxaflor because of a potential risk to bees.
The court found last week that the US Environmental Protection Agency had relied on limited and flawed data from the manufacturer Dow AgroSciences, and its approval was unjustified given the precarious state of the bee population.
The chemical has a multi-billion dollar global market, and Dow has said it will seek to overturn the decision after doing more regulatory work. But the decision is being hailed by groups campaigning against the use of neonicotinoids as a turning point in their battle against use of the pesticide group.
Sulfoxaflor is now banned throughout the United States until such time as Dow can show it will not harm bees, but at this point, it is still approved in New Zealand.
It is used mainly as a coating for crop seeds, designed to protect the growing plant against sucking insects.
The lobby group GE Free New Zealand says the insecticide should be withdrawn for sale immediately - and it has formally asked the EPA to reassess its approval. But group secretary Claire Bleakely says the EPA's reply was discouraging.
"They have told us that if we want them to re-assess this neonicotinoid we need to pay them and fill in the requisite form," she said. "We're saying this is a dangerous thing, and the public and the beekeepers and New Zealand, should not be subject to the cost."
The EPA said it was aware of the US court decision and would examine it in detail, along with the response of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority approved the pesticide for use in New Zealand in 2013, but did not class it as a neonicotinoid, although it acts in a similar way, as a neurotoxin.