The Minnesota legislature has approved a bill that will protect bees and other pollinators from harmful systemic insecticides by requiring pollinator plant labeling.
Bill H.F. 2798, introduced by Representative Rick Hansen, would forbid the labeling and advertising of plants that have been treated with pollinator lethal insecticide as friendly to pollinators. It also would require the Department of Agriculture to enforce the law by inspecting plants to ensure that those with bee-friendly labels do not contain insecticides that would harm pollinators. The bill has enjoyed bipartisan support, with sponsors from both the Republican and Democratic-Farmer-Labor parties. It has passed 111-17 in the House and 60-0 in the Senate and was signed into law on May 21 by Governor Mark Dayton.
“[The bill] is a truth-in-labeling provision,” said Hansen. Research has shown that systemic insecticides are harmful to bees and other pollinators. A 2014 report by the Center for Food Safety shows that the ingestion of systemic insecticides such as neonicotinoids kills honeybees on a mass level. After 2006, when neonicotinoids started being used throughout the country, beekeepers reported the loss of their bee populations at significantly greater levels. The aggregate cost to replace the bee population is about US$300 million a year.
A dwindling bee population will pose a hazard to the United States’ food supply, as scientists claim that one-third of the food eaten by humans comes from crops that require pollination. This problem has attracted national attention; the Environmental Protection Agency has taken actions to protect pollinators such as working with the United States Department of Agriculture to develop technologies that would reduce pesticide dust drift and enforcing government investigations of bee kills.
“Our legislators should be commended for acting quickly to incorporate last summer’s findings on neonic-treated nursery plants into Minnesota law,” said Lex Horan at Pesticide Action Network. “[This is] the beginning of the policy change we’ve been working for.”