News Release

Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Save the Bees

For Immediate Release

Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Save the Bees:

Pass the Massachusetts Pollinators Protection Bill, HB 4041

 

MASSPIRG joins coalition of beekeepers and public health, farming and agriculture, and environmental organizations calling for passage of the Pollinator Bill today at a State House press conference. This week marks the 11th annual National Pollinator Week, a time to celebrate and protect pollinators.

Beekeepers report they’re losing on average 30% of all honeybee colonies each winter -- twice the loss considered sustainable. In 2015, it was more than 40% nationwide, and in Massachusetts beekeepers have reported a 55% annual loss in colony numbers.

National Pollinator Week is an important reminder of the vital importance of bees. Bees pollinate much of the food we depend on. Without bees we wouldn’t have cranberries, apples, broccoli, coffee beans, or even chocolate. In fact, 71 out of 100 crop species, which provide 90% of food worldwide, are bee-pollinated.

Scientists have identified a relatively new class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics) which first hit the market in the mid-1990s and are now widely used across the country, as a leading cause of the bee colony decline. Neonicotinoid manufacturers and distributors, such as Dow Chemical, Bayer, and Monsanto, ramped up the use of these insecticides in the mid-2000s. These insecticides are now sprayed on most flower and tree seeds before they can even be bought in stores, and neonics are available to everyone at hardware stores around the country.

“Our public health is threatened by the widespread use of harmful pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are killing our pollinators. The problem is simple: without bees, we have no food, said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director of MASSPIRG. “The European Union, Connecticut, and Maryland have already restricted the sale and use of neonics, Massachusetts must do the same. We cannot afford delay.”

The Pollinator bill (H.4041), sponsored by Representative Dykema (Holliston) and Senator Eldridge (Acton), along with 135 legislative co-sponsors, would prohibit the retail sale of “neonicotinoids” to consumers and restrict the use of neonics to only trained and licensed users. The bill allows those in the agriculture sector to continue using these products but would require them to have a pesticide applicator’s license and to receive training on proper use. They would also need to refrain from neonicotinoid use during the blooming season when pollinators are most vulnerable to exposure.

The bill has been reported favorably out of the committee Natural Resources and must pass before the session ends on July 31, 2018.

MASSPIRG’s staff and volunteers joined by Pollinator Protection Bill Chief Sponsors, Representative Carolyn Dykema and Senator Jamie Eldridge (center) at State House Press Conference.

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