Minnesota legislators attempt to roll back protections for bees | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Minnesota legislators attempt to roll back protections for bees

State House, Senate take steps to weaken “truth-in-labeling” law passed in 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2015 
Contact: Lex Horan, Pesticide Action Network                
651.245.1733, lex@panna.org

This week, committees in both the Minnesota House and Senate both made moves to roll back important protections passed in 2014 to protect bees and pollinators from pesticides.

In 2014, the Minnesota legislature passed a truth-in-labeling bill, requiring that nursery plants that contain bee-harming pesticides can’t be labeled as “bee-friendly.” The bill also created the category of “pollinator lethal insecticide” in Minnesota statute, defining certain systemic insecticides, including neonicotinoids, as harmful to bees and other pollinators.

On Wednesday, March 25, the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee voted to repeal the labeling law completely. Meanwhile, the House is attempting to weaken the law.

Earlier this week, newly-released public polling data affirmed that Americans are highly concerned about pollinator declines and understand that these declines are linked with human activity, including pesticide use. In response to the Minnesota legislature’s recent actions, organizer Lex Horan of Pesticide Action Network said:

“Spring’s coming, and soon Minnesota gardeners will be hitting their local nurseries, looking for flowering plants that provide good forage for bees without exposing them to harmful pesticides. None of us wants to plant flowers that harm bees – and systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids do just that. At high doses they can kill bees outright, and at low levels they can interfere with bees’ immune systems, navigation, communication and reproduction.

If legislators weaken our state’s truth-in-labeling law, it will be harder to plant a bee-friendly garden in years to come. Minnesota consumers have responded positively to the nursery labeling law, and our state’s leading nurseries are already working to phase out neonicotinoids. It’s primarily representatives of the pesticide industry who are rushing to defend neonicotinoids and weaken the labeling law.

The latest numbers from USDA show that Minnesota loses about 50% of our honey bees each year. This is not the time for legislators to backpedal on the progress we’ve made to protect pollinators. At a minimum, legislators should keep ‘bee-friendly’ plants free of bee-harming pesticides. And while maintaining last year’s progress is important, more policy change is needed to turn the tide of bee declines. It’s time for a moratorium on neonicotinoids and fipronil, and we’re glad that pollinator champions at the Capitol introduced HF 2029 last week to take our state’s pesticide policy in the right direction.”

 

###