An Update on a Previous Post: Maryland Legislature has approved legislation that would essentially make all neonicotinoids restricted use pesticides in the state of Maryland. If signed by the governor, retail sales would be banned starting in 2018. This would give retailers and consumers time to adjust.
A report entitled, “Pollinator Health and the Use of Neonicotinoids in Maryland” came to the following conclusions:
There is no clear indication that pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are the cause of honey bee population declines. While pesticides can be toxic to honey bees, the growing weight of evidence is that population losses are due to a combination of stressors. Neonicotinoids have not been shown to be lethal to honey bees if used properly, but are likely to have sublethal effects that scientists are continuing to research. A variety of best management practices are available and should be promoted for protecting honey bees and other important pollinators. Included among these practices:
• continue the use of integrated pest management practices;
• reduce the use of pesticides while hives are on site;
• follow label instructions to ensure proper application of pesticides;
• spray pesticides in the evening, night, or early morning when bees and pollen are not present;
• avoid spraying pesticides during flowering or when plants nearby are flowering;
• avoid application of pesticides for cosmetic purposes;
• notify nearby beekeepers and farms prior to pesticide application;
• dispose of pesticides and used containers properly; and
• increase honey bee habitat throughout the State, specifically around agricultural land.
Several retailers of insecticides and plants treated with insecticides have also taken action. In response to consumer demand, at least one major retailer requires all plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids to be labeled as such. In April 2015, another major retailer expressed intent to phase out products containing neonicotinoids by 2019. Additionally, some nurseries, growers, and seed companies elect not to use neonicotinoids.
As we continue to learn about the effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators and the environment, the State may consider allocating more resources to support the research and monitoring of honey bee and other pollinator populations, including research on the various stressors contributing to pollinator decline. EPA is reviewing neonicotinoids and pollinator health data and the State should monitor these activities. Additionally, several states have enacted legislation relating to neonicotinoids and pollinator health and many proposals are pending – these actions should also be monitored. Finally, when making decisions regarding neonicotinoid use and pollinator health, State lawmakers and regulators must be mindful of the many policies, laws, and regulations that exist at both the federal and State level.