Proposal to Restrict the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides Withdrawn from Consideration

Twenty-Second District Delegate Anne Healey introduced HB 1285, “Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Restricted Use,” in the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee on February 7, 2014. It is a relatively short bill, proposing only to reclassify the use of neonicotinoid pesticides as “restricted use” chemicals, meaning that only “certified applicators” would be permitted to use them. The bill was scheduled for a hearing on February 26, 2014. On the 25th of February, the hearing was cancelled, and two days later, the proposed legislation was withdrawn from Committee.

Neonicotinoids are chemical compounds that mimic the natural insecticide, nicotine, by acting on the central nervous system, causing interference with nerve cell processes, paralysis, and eventual death. Neonicotinoid pesticides are used to treat seeds, and the chemicals are known to accumulate in the pollens and nectars of plants.

A European Union (EU) report found that three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiametoxam) expose bees to acute and chronic risks to “bee colony survival and development,” “effects on bee larvae and bee behaviour,” and “risks posed by sub-lethal doses,” causing the EU to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for two years starting in December 2013. Since the European Union report came out, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to protect honeybees in the U.S. from the harmful effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, including changing labels on pesticide chemicals that contain neonicotinoids, innovating new ways of conducting planting activities to minimize dust drift, and collaborating with state agencies to train and certify pesticide applicators. The EPA also accelerated the review process for six neonicotinoid compounds in its Registration Review Program.

On February 26, 2014, Smart on Pesticides Maryland, a coalition of beekeeping, clean water, farming, and environmental organizations, issued a letter of support for the restricted use bill, saying that it “will make a significant impact by eliminating consumers’ use of products that include neonicotinoids.”

Delegate Healey said in an article in The Prince George’s Post, “These poisons should only be handled and applied by trained professionals who will use the minimum amount necessary. It is not safe for untrained people to use them in residential areas – or really anywhere, since bees travel as far as five miles to pollinate and can carry the poison back to the hive where it can weaken or kill the entire hive.” The Maryland House Environmental Committee did not release an explanation for why the bill was withdrawn before its first public hearing. Attempts to contact Delegate Healey about the bill have been unsuccessful.

Posted on by Kristine Dunkerton

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