August 18, 2017

Spokane, WA Ends Use of Neonicotinoids

The city council of Spokane, Washington has voted to discontinue the purchase and use of neonicotinoids on city property. Those pesticides are linked to honey bee colony collapse disorder.

HoneybeePollinators are integral to agriculture. Since honey bees pollinate 30% of our food crops, Council President Ben Stuckart said in a statement, “this ordinance simply says Spokane prioritizes the protection of our food supply over the ornamental use of pesticides.” Other cities that have banned these chemicals or are looking for alternatives include Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

Beyond Pesticides applauds this move and states that Spokane is part of a growing movement to protect pollinators. The European Union has a two-year moratorium on the pesticides. And just this week, President Obama created a task force to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators. The ban names six specific types of neonicotinoids used on crops: midacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, acetamiprid, and thiacloprid. Those chemicals are highly toxic to bees.

The ordinance states that neonicotinoids spread through the entire plant and are found in nectar and pollen of flowers, as well as in the soil. It also states that “no department may knowingly purchase or use products or products in packaging containing neonicotinoids.” Even at low doses, neonicotinoids impair bees’ ability to learn, to navigate, to collect food, to product new queens, and maintain a healthy immune system.

And today, the first wide-scale scientific analysis was released that links neonicotinoids to declining bee populations. The report will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Environmental Science and Polllution Research. Scientists reviewed more than 800 peer-reviewed publications on the impact of systemic pesticides. The Worldwide Integrated Assessment documents the harm to bees and ecosystems.

Dr. Emily Maruez, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America said in a statement, “this report should be a final wake up call for American regulators who have been slow to respond to the science. The weight of the evidence showing harm to bees and other pollinators should move EPA to restrict neonicotinoids sooner than later. And the same regulatory loopholes that allowed these pesticides to be brought to the market in the first place – and remain on the shelf – need to be closed.”

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