Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Minnesota governor issues executive order limiting pesticides harmful to pollinators

Bee Informed graphic
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday issued an executive order limiting the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides that have been partly blamed on declining bee populations, Dan Gunderson and Elizabeth Dunbar report for Minnesota Public Radio. Honeybees lost 28 percent of colonies last winter, up from 22 percent the year before. Deaths are blamed on varroa mites, pesticides, disease and poor nutrition and food supply. Bees are responsible for more than $15 billion in increased U.S. crop value each year.

A University of Minnesota study released Friday found that neonicotinoids make queen bees less active, making them lay fewer eggs.

Dayton's decision was based on recommendations from a two-year study by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Gunderson and Dunbar write. The executive order calls for: "Demonstrated need for pest control before neonicotinoid insecticides can be applied. That means a there must be a level of pest infestation high enough to cause economic damage to the crops" and "Increased inspection and enforcement to make sure users follow label restrictions designed to protect bees."

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association said in a statement that "pollinators play a crucial role in the health of our agricultural economy ... restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids that adversely affect farmers ability to make a living should be evaluated and implemented carefully," Gunderson and Dunbar write. Bayer Crop Science, which makes two of the most common neonicotinoids said in a statement that it supports efforts to protect pollinators, but "taking tools from farmers without an open and transparent public discussion rooted in sound science does a disservice to everyone."

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