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Vermont passes bill to reduce bee-killing pesticides

As bee populations decline, a major victory for pollinators in Vermont

MONTPELIER, VT—Environmental advocates and everyone who depends on food applaud as a bill to protect pollinators by reducing pesticides harmful to bees was signed into law.

The bill (H.205) regulates neonicotinoid pesticides because of their particular toxicity to bees. Neonicotinoids are systemic in nature, meaning that the chemicals make the entire plant, pollen and nectar toxic. Neonicotinoids stay present in the environment months or years after application and even in small amounts, these pesticides kill bees and harm wildlife, including birds and invertebrates like earthworms.

The bill, signed by the Governor on May 28th, classifies the neonicotinoid family of pesticides as “restricted use” in Vermont, restricting use to trained applicators.

“Beekeepers across Vermont are losing hives at an alarming rate. The least we can do is keep bee-killing pesticides out of our state,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont and New Hampshire State Director at Toxics Action Center Campaigns. “We need bees to keep our food system healthy. This law is an importing step to protecting them.”

“Ever since neonicotinoid use increased dramatically, beekeeper losses generally speaking have increased dramatically as well,” said Ross Conrad, beekeeper at Dancing Bee Gardens in Middlebury and a member of Vermont’s Pollinator Protection Committee. “So this action by the Vermont legislature, while small, is a step in the right direction and will providing a little bit of relief for Vermont’s beleaguered pollinators.”

Judy Bellairs of the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club added that Representative Chip Troiano should be recognized for his amazing work as chief author of the legislation.  “Thanks to Chip our pollinators will be better protected from these deadly chemicals.”

Vermont beekeepers lost an average of 57 percent of their hives from 2017-2018, according to the Bee Informed Partnership. Vermont’s rate is even higher than the national average of 40 percent loss over the same time period.

Vermont joins states like Maryland and Connecticut that have passed laws to designate neonicotinoids as restricted-use pesticides. In 2018, the 28 countries in the European Union adopted a total ban on outdoor use of neonicotinoids.

“We applaud Vermont for adopting this bill to ban pollinator-toxic pesticides,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at Friends of the Earth. “Given the inaction of Trump’s EPA, Vermont’s progress is more important than ever to help address the pollinator crisis.”

Contacts:
Shaina Kasper, Toxics Action Center, shaina@toxicsaction.org, (802) 922-4780
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, pdavis@foe.org, (202) 222-0744

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