New York State still needs Birds and Bees Protection Act to protect state’s water, land, and people from neonicotinoids’ toxic harms
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)’s announcement that it will limit the unrestricted use of pesticides that harm bee and other pollinator populations is very welcome: neonicotinoids kill New York’s pollinators, including birds, bees, and butterflies, and they threaten our food, food production, and public health. The new restrictions eliminate the most common neonicotinoid insecticides from consumer products and non-professional residential uses, yet much more needs to be done. We look forward to working with NYSDEC and the state legislature to pass the Birds and Bees Protection Act to remove neonic-treated seeds from New York, one of the most common pathways for the toxins to enter our food and water.
Over the past two to three decades, bees and other pollinator populations have drastically declined. Numerous studies point to the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides, a highly potent class of chemicals used increasingly as pesticides since the 1990s, as a predominant cause of increasing insect death across New York State. In addition, research documents that neonicotinoid insecticides, or “neonics,” injure or kill beneficial insects, worms and other invertebrates, bats, fish, and deer in the wild; moreover, case control studies in humans point to possible adverse health impacts from chronic exposure, including congenital abnormalities (birth defects) and impairments in neurological function.
Most exposures from neonics come from indiscriminate “prophylactic” treatment of corn, wheat, and soy crops by painting these poisonous chemicals on seeds. Neonic-treated seeds grow into plants that contain the highly potent chemical in every part of the plant, from roots to stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit – any animal or human that eats the plant or fruit becomes contaminated.
The Birds and Bees Protection Act limits the use of five neonicotonoids, primarily by preventing the sale and use of wheat, corn, and soybean seeds coated with these neonicotinoids, except in circumstances where no alternatives exist. The Act also prohibits use of these chemicals in ornamental plantings and for certain other outdoor uses, and it requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and other state agencies to investigate alternatives to neonics.