Maryland is going to become the first state to partially ban the use of a pesticide that is said be a major contributor to the recent decline in bee populations.
The Pollinator Protection Act, a bill that looks to prohibit consumers from buying pesticides containing neonicotinoids (an insecticide that is toxic to bees), has recently received a 98-39 vote in the Maryland House of Delegates, reports the Baltimore Sun. If the bill is signed by governor Larry Hogan, it will become law.
According to Warren G. Deschenaux, Executive Director of the Department of Legislative Services, public pressure to research the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bees stemmed from the sharp decline in population they have been facing in recent years.
“Honey bee populations have been declining for decades,” Deschenaux said “In 2006, honey bee losses gained national attention when commercial beekeepers along the East Coast reported significant population declines of 30% to 90%.”
Deschenaux also reiterated the importance that honey bees have on not only the ecosystem and environment, but on the economy as well.
“In 2011 alone, honey bees contributed more than $26 million in pollination services to crops grown in Maryland,” he said.
Many studies have shown that pesticides containing neonicotinoids can kill bees at high concentrations, and at low concentrations can impair their ability to forage for food and make them for susceptible to diseases.
If the bill is passed, consumers will be unable to purchase pesticides containing neonicotinoids by 2018. However, certified pesticide applicators, farmers and veterinarians will still be able to use neonicotinoids.
Although neonicotinoids would still be used in Maryland, a partial ban is still a big deal, says Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a member of environmental advocated group Friends of the Earth.
“For someone that isn’t certified and doesn’t know how to use them, they might spray heavily,” Finck-Haynes told ThinkProgress. “Making sure that we’re eliminating that use is a significant step in getting them out of the environment…studies come out showing that, for home garden use, these products are used 120 times more.”
Although many advocates want to see more done to limit the use of neonicotinoids, most agree that if Maryland passes the Pollination Protection Act it would be a big step in the right direction.
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