Can we take the sting out of pollinator losses? It requires state-level action.
June 8, 2015
It is unfortunate that the U.S. Department of Agriculture findings that show Maryland beekeepers lost 61 percent of their colonies last year were not available just a few months earlier when the legislative committee I serve upon listened to chemical and agricultural industry lobbyists denying this urgent problem and the role that toxic pesticides play (“The endangered pollinators,” May 22).
Numerous reports show the growing, widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides or “neonics” contributes to honey bee decline. In addition to killing bees outright, even low levels of neonic pesticides can impair bees’ ability to learn, find their way back to the hive, collect food, produce new queens and mount an effective immune response. As Maryland scientists testified this winter, neonics can also harm other wildlife including birds and butterflies and they are linked to death of molting blue crabs.
The Pollinator Protection Act of 2015, on which I was the sponsor in the House of Delegates and Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam was the sponsor of the cross-filed bill in the Senate would have restricted consumer use of neonic pesticides and required an informational label on plants, seeds and nursery stock treated with neonics. At minimum, Marylanders surely have a right to know when they are bringing toxic neonics into their homes and gardens.
Sadly, the bill did not receive a vote in either the House Environment and Transportation or Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committees.
Our honey bees are in serious trouble, and if we lose our bees, and other pollinators, one-third of our food supply is in danger. As The Sun’s editorial noted, “it will take more than good intentions to preserve and protect” bees and other pollinators.
Around the world and around the country, government agencies are restricting neonics and Maryland should act, too. With the continued support of beekeepers, scientists, farmers, and public health and environmental advocates, I look forward to passing the Pollinator Protection Act in 2016 so we can make our state safer not just for pollinators but for all of us.
Del. Anne Healey
The writer, a Democrat, represents District 22, Prince George’s County, in the Maryland House of Delegates.