Friday, March 25, 2016

Maryland close to banning household pesticides blamed for rapid decline in bee populations

Lawmakers in Maryland are expected in the next few weeks to send legislation to the desk of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan that would ban the use of household pesticides with neonicotinoids that are blamed for killing honeybee populations, Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post. "Farmers and professionals who better understand how to apply them in a way that poses a lesser threat to bees would be exempted by the law when it takes effect in 2018." In Maryland, which lost 60 percent of its hives last year, much of the blame is on residents who overuse pesticides on gardens and trees. (Bee Informed graphic)

"Neonicotinoids were introduced to agriculture in the 1990s and made available to the general public more recently because it was thought to be safer for bees than other pesticides," Fears writes. "They seep into plants rather than simply coating the surface. Although some researchers insist the chemical doesn’t cause bee mortality, other scientists are gathering evidence that it does. The Environmental Protection Agency launched a review to determine if several varieties of the insecticide have contributed to the collapse of bee colonies. Its findings are due in 2018." The Maryland Department of Agriculture has said there is little scientific evidence linking bee deaths to neonicotinoids. 

If the legislation is signed into law, it could have national implications, Fears writes. "About a dozen other states are considering taking similar steps as bees die and honey production declines. Last year, honey production fell 12 percent among producers with five or more colonies, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey." (Read more)

No comments: