After years of scientific evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are harmful to bees and other pollinators (LABROOTS INFOGRAPHIC), Vermont took a crucial step earlier this month towards protecting these important insects. The Vermont Legislature passed a bill banning consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides by July 2019, making the new legislation effective in less than two months after it passed.
According to Friends of the Earth, Vermont beekeepers lost an average of 57 percent of their hives in 2018. Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Pesticides and Pollinators Program Manager of Friends of the Earth stated: “These bee-killing pesticides pose a serious threat to public health, the environment and our entire food system. We commend Vermont’s precedent-setting leadership on pollinator protection and urge Governor Scott to sign this bill into law. With 40 percent of pollinators on the brink of extinction and scientific warnings of an insect apocalypse, this bill is a critical step to help curb this alarming decline before it is too late.”
Hundreds of studies have found neonics, as the pesticides are often nicknamed, to be harmful to bees as well as other pollinators and bird species. According to the Sierra Club, one teaspoon of neonic pesticides are enough to kill 1.25 billion bees, especially because the pesticides make all parts of a plant toxic, including the pollen and nectar. And because neonics stay in the environment for years, they can have long-lasting impacts on the ecosystems, such as affecting soil chemistry, pH, groundwater sources, and biodiversity as a whole.
The results of a study by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies found that of the 15 bumblebee species in Vermont, three are probably extinct and at least one other is in decline. In Vermont, some pollen in honey bee hives and some streams and tile drains in farm fields are already contaminated by neonics.
Vermont’s decision was passed only days following the UN’s global biodiversity assessment, which determined that “a million species, including pollinators and other insects, are at risk of extinction and that the window of opportunity to protect biodiversity and our environment is rapidly closing.”