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Pollinator Health Bill Comes Before Committee Hearing

by Representative Carolyn Dykema
October 16, 2017

Pollinator Health Bills Receive Widespread Public Support in Committee Hearing

 

BOSTON- H.2113, An Act protecting Massachusetts pollinators, came before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture in a public hearing on Tuesday, October 3rd. The bill, which would limit the ability of unlicensed users to acquire and spray neonicotinoid pesticides, is a legislative priority of Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston).

Neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” are a class of pesticide that has come into common use in the last decade and has been associated with recent declines in the health and survival of bees and other pollinators. This legislation would require that neonics and neonic-treated products only be handled by a trained and licensed user and that spraying during peak times be limited to essential agricultural and horticultural use.

A diverse group of stakeholders testified in support of the bill at Tuesday’s hearing, citing the environmental, agricultural, and consumer protection concerns that this bill would address. Entomologists and other scientists submitted testimony citing peer-reviewed evidence on the impacts of neonics on pollinator health. Beekeepers and farmers spoke about the economic and environmental impacts that pollinator loss have had across the Commonwealth and the need for legislation to address the issue. Representative Dykema testified in support of her bill and was joined by Dr. Robert Gegear, a professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Melissa Hoffer, Chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau in the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

“Our research has shown that consuming field-realistic doses of clothianidin, one of the newer neonicotinoid formulations, for prolonged periods of time produces 50% mortality in test populations of queen, worker, and male bumblebees,” said Dr. Gegear. “This bill will significantly reduce the exposure of our native pollinators to neonicotinoids in the wild, which our research clearly shows decreased survival.”

Other groups supporting the bill include the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, the New England Wildflower Society, and the Massachusetts County Beekeepers Association. The bill has 134 bipartisan co-sponsors, representing two-thirds of the state legislature.

“The broad range of support for common-sense pollinator health legislation reflects the growing consensus around the impacts of neonics and the need for action,” said Rep. Dykema. “This bill takes critical steps to support sustainable agriculture by curbing unlicensed use while still protecting the ability of trained professionals to do their jobs.”

Last session, a similar version of the bill was reported favorably out of committee and advanced to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The committee will now consider this bill alongside its Senate counterpart, S.2164, filed by State Senator Jamie Eldridge.

 

Rep. Carolyn Dykema has served in the Massachusetts House of Representative since 2009 and represents the residents of the 8th Middlesex District which includes Holliston, Hopkinton, Southborough and pct. 2 of Westborough.

 

 

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Comments (2)

Thank you Representative Dykema and others for supporting this. This is an issue that can be controlled by individual action, but it has been hard to understand how to act. The products on store shelves boast of great results without mentioning that the ingredients are destructive to pollinators. Home Depot is the first big box store to acknowledge that their garden stock may be pre-treated. If these neonicotinoids are not available to the general public, we will make do just fine and our bees will get a better chance.

- S T Woodrow | 10/17/17 7:57 PM

Thank you for your work on this bill.

- Utah Nickel | 10/16/17 9:12 PM

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