Ensuring the health and viability of pollinators is essential for New York State’s agricultural production, economic development and environmental sustainability. This bill would ban the sale and usage of certain neonicotinoids and other insecticides such as fipronil, all of which are harmful to birds and bees.
Pollinators have played a key role in agriculture throughout human history. Bees are especially important for the production of many crops grown in New York State (e.g. apples, pumpkins, squash, and tomatoes). These crops represent over half a billion dollars of economic output in New York each year, guaranteeing thousands of jobs and much-needed tax revenue.
Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of systemic insecticides that target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death, and include many of the chemicals listed in this bill. Another insecticide, fipronil, is not a neonicotinoid but is listed in the bill due to its similar toxicological characteristics and presence in the environment. Residues from these insecticides accumulate in the pollen and nectar of treated plants and contribute to the death and decline of pollinator species worldwide. Affected bees have difficulty flying, harvesting pollen, and navigating to their hive, resulting in colony collapse disorder, a disturbing trend of massive bee colony die-offs. In the 2017-18 season, beekeepers in New York lost over 40 percent of their bee colonies, and the loss rate has hovered at or above that number for the past eight years.
These insecticides also work their way into ponds and nearby waterways through runoff. One-third of water samples from a recent study of the Saint Lawrence watershed contained neonicotinoids at levels that are toxic for aquatic life. Extensive testing of New York surface water by the U.S. Geological Survey found neonicotinoids in nearly 40 percent of samples. Once in a body of water, these toxic insecticides are ingested by insects, ultimately having detrimental impacts on fish and birds up the food chain.
To protect New York’s pollinator species, and our agricultural sector, these harmful insecticides need to be banned, following the lead of other states and the European Union.
This bill amends Section 33-1301, Section 49-0203, and Section 11-0305 of the Environmental Conservation Law to ban several common pesticide ingredients.